Recent Office of National Statistics (ONS) research has concluded that people of BAME heritage have a higher risk of dying from Covid–19 because of demographic and socioeconomic factors such as poor living conditions and jobs, not pre-existing health conditions.

Since the start of the Covid–19 pandemic there has been controversy surrounding the reasons why people from some ethnic backgrounds are more at risk from coronavirus than others with previous ONS data showing that Black people are four times more likely to die from Covid than White people.

Official data breaking down Covid–19 deaths by ethnicity have either not been released or when published almost considered as an afterthought.

Part of the problem has been the use of the catch-all term ‘BAME’ (Black,Asian Minority Ethnic). When analysis is carried out the Black African and Black Caribbean groups are analysed separately from Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups so producing more accurate results.

The latest research shows  that England and Wales males from a Black African background have a Covid–19 death rate 2.7 times higher than White males.

Women of Black Caribbean ethnicity have the highest rate for females, nearly twice the rate for White women.

Ethnic males have a higher death rate than ethnic females with White people having the lowest risk of death than all other ethnic groups apart from Chinese.

In England, people of South Asian ethnic background had a higher prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes which are associated with increased COVID–19 mortality, while those of Chinese background had the lowest prevalence.

Rubbish homes, rubbish jobs

Bottom line with the ONS research is that the findings show that ethnic differences in mortality involving COVID–19 are most strongly associated with demographic and socio-economic factors, such as place of residence and occupational exposures, and cannot be explained by pre-existing health conditions using hospital data or self-reported health status.

“Our statistical modelling shows that a large proportion of the difference in the risk of COVID–19 mortality between ethnic groups can be explained by demographic, geographical and socioeconomic factors, such as where you live or the occupation you’re in. It also found that although specific pre-existing conditions place people at greater risk of COVID–19 mortality generally, it does not explain the remaining ethnic background differences in mortality,” said Ben Humberstone, Deputy Director, Health and Life Events Division, Office for National Statistics.

Poor standards of accommodation and overcrowded flats, especially in a urban area like East London, and the nature of people’s jobs are the areas that need addressing. Unfortunately these are also the hardest and the slowest problems to fix.

Care homes

Those in care homes are likely to suffer more as males in the Asian ethnic group and females in the Black and Asian ethnic groups studied had raised rates of COVID–19 deaths compared to those in the White ethnic group after taking into account geography and health measures.

As the pandemic continues the medical communities knowledge of coronavirus also grows, if only to explain its complexity and emphasis the challenges in combatting this curse.

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