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Black and Asian people and those in deprived areas more likely to die of coronavirus, new report finds

Black and Asian people and those in deprived areas more likely to die of coronavirus, new report finds

Black and Asian people and those from deprived communities are more likely to die of coronavirus, report shows (PA)

4 min read

Death rates from coronavirus are highest among Black and Asian people and those living in deprived areas, a new Public Health England report has found.

Published after pressure was applied on the government to make its findings available, the report also shows people aged 80 and over are 70 times more likely to die if they contract the virus.

The key statistics include:

  • Black people are more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19 and death rates are highest among Black and Asian groups;
  • People of Bangladeshi ethnicity have around twice the risk of death as white British people, and Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other Black ethnicities have a 10-50% higher risk of death;
  • Mortality rates in the most deprived areas of England were more than double those in the least deprived areas, for both men and women;
  • Men working as security guards, taxi drivers and chauffeurs, bus and coach drivers, chefs, sales and retail assistants, lower skilled workers in construction and processing plants, and men and women working in social care had significantly high rates of death from COVID-19;
  • Deaths in care homes accounted for 27% of deaths recorded up to 8 May 2020.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons on Tuesday: “People are understandably angry about injustices, and as Health Secretary I feel a deep responsibility because this pandemic has exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation.

“It is very clear that some people are significantly more vulnerable to Covid-19, and this is something I am determined to understand in full, and take action to address.”

Asked about the disparities, Mr Hancock said: "It is a subject that was important before we went into the coronavirus crisis and it is even more important now. Black lives matter, and as do those of the poorest areas of our country which have worse health outcomes.

"We need to make sure all these considerations are taken into account and action is taken to level up the health outcomes of people across this country, because there is no more important levelling up than the levelling up of our life expectancy and the quality of health with which you live that life."

The Health Secretary said while the report underlines that being from a BAME or deprived community heightens risk, “the analysis did not adjust for factors such as co-morbidity and obesity so there is much more work to do to understand the key drivers of these disparities, the relationship between the different risk factors and what we can do to close the gap”.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran said the report "holds yet another sombre mirror to our society, where some of our most vulnerable have born the brunt of the suffering".

The party leadership hopeful has also called for a taskforce to be set up to consider measures and agree actions to better protect vulnerable groups.

"It's time for the Government to give this report the acknowledgement it deserves, and admit that due to inequalities in our society, Coronavirus has been able to discriminate," Ms Moran added.

Mr Hancock told the Commons: "I am determined that we continue to develop our understanding and shape our response. I am pleased to announce my honourable friend the Equalities Minister will be leading on this work and taking it forward working with PHE and others to understand the impacts.”

Responding to the report, Labour's Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary Marsha de Cordova said: “This review confirms what we already knew - that racial and health inequalities amplify the risks of Covid-19. Those in the poorest households and people of colour are disproportionately impacted. 

“But when it comes to the question of how we reduce these disparities, it is notably silent. It presents no recommendations. Having the information is a start – but now is the time for action. 

“The Government must not wait any longer to mitigate the risks faced by these communities and must act immediately to protect BAME people so that no more lives are lost.”

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