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Black people four times more likely to be killed by coronavirus, according to new analysis of UK death figures

The ONS found death rates were higher in almost all minority ethnic groups (PA)

4 min read

New analysis of the UK’s death figures from coronavirus reveal black people are over four times more likely to die from the disease than white people.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) say their results suggest the difference is partly due to socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but some reasons remain unexplained.

It shows black males are 4.2 times more likely to die from a coronavirus-related death than white males, and black females 4.3 times more likely than white females.

And it also shows males of Bangladeshi/Pakistani ethnicity are 3.6 times more likely to die from a Covid-19-related death than white males, while the equivalent figure for Bangladeshi/Pakistani females is 3.4.

The ONS used data on death registrations up to 17 April, combined with 2011 Census records, to model the impact coronavirus is having on different ethnic groups.

They suggest men and women from all minorities - except Chinese females - are at a greater risk of dying compared with white people.

The stats body said when adjusted for age, socio-demographic characteristics, health and disability black men and women were still 1.9 times more likely to die.

It said a "substantial part of the difference in Covid-19 mortality between ethnic groups is explained by the different circumstances in which members of those groups are known to live, such as areas with socio-economic deprivation".

But is said these factors do not explain all of the difference, suggesting some ethnic groups may be "over-represented in public-facing occupations" and therefore be more at risk from infection.

Last month the Government announced an official inquiry was being launched to investigate why people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds appear to be disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

Shadow justice secretary David Lammy said the new figures were “appalling”, with the Labour frontbencher adding: "It is urgent the causes of this disproportionality are investigated. 

“Action must be taken to protect black men and women - as well as people from all backgrounds - from the virus."

The chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said: “These statistics reveal the true impact coronavirus is having on ethnic minority people. 

“Race inequality is persistent across Britain, with people from ethnic minorities facing disadvantage in their living conditions, access to healthcare and economic opportunities, among other areas, which could be contributing factors.”

The ONS said ethnicity is not recorded on death certificates, which is why they used census data for their analysis.

In response the mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for that to be changed, adding: "We need to fully expose the effect it is having on our communities, have honest conversations about what is behind it, why it is happening, and work hard to tackle these problems.

"That's why I'm calling for greater transparency and bringing city leaders together to see what we can do."

And Helen Barnard, acting director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Today’s figures are a stark reminder that although we are all weathering the same storm, we are not all in the same boat.

“People from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to live in deprived areas, employed in low-paid jobs where they cannot work from home. 

"We know that both these factors increase the risk of catching coronavirus.”


A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Any death from this virus is a tragedy and we are working incredibly hard to protect the nation’s public health.
‘’We’re aware that this virus has sadly appeared to have a disproportionate effect on people from BAME backgrounds. It is critical we find out which groups are most at risk so we can take the right steps to protect them and minimise their risk.
‘’We have commissioned Public Health England to better understand the different factors, such as ethnicity, obesity and geographical location that may influence the effects of the virus.

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