Ethnic minorities in UK are hit hardest by coronavirus; here’s why
According to a study, per capita deaths among other black groups were double that of the population overall in the UK, while those of Indian descent also suffered more fatalities than average. This is because these minorities are more likely to work in healthcare and other sectors most exposed to the novel coronavirus.
A leading think tank has said in a report that people from some ethnic minorities in Britain are dying in disproportionate numbers from COVID-19. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), per capita deaths for people in Britain who had black Caribbean heritage were three times that for British citizens who are white.
The think tank said that per capita deaths among other black groups were double that of the population overall, while those of Indian descent also suffered more fatalities than average, the IFS said.
This is because these minorities are more likely to work in healthcare and other sectors most exposed to the novel coronavirus, it said on Friday. Taking into account the fact that most minority groups are much younger on average than the white British population, per capita death rates across almost all minority groups looked disproportionately high.
Part of the extra death rate could be explained by ethnic minorities' higher likelihood to live in London or other cities hit hard by the virus, but geography was not the only factor.
"There is unlikely to be a single explanation here and different factors may be more important for different groups," Ross Warwick, a research economist at the IFS said.
"For instance, while Black Africans are particularly likely to be employed in key worker roles which might put them at risk, older Bangladeshis appear vulnerable on the basis of underlying health conditions."
Data from the United States has shown African Americans are more likely to die from COVID-19, highlighting longstanding disparities in health and inequalities in access to medical care there.
The IFS said people from ethnic minorities in Britain were more likely to be hit financially by the coronavirus shutdown.
"Bangladeshi men are four times as likely as white British men to have jobs in shutdown industries, with Pakistani men nearly three times as likely," said Lucinda Platt, a London School of Economics professor who sits on an IFS inequalities panel.
The study found that after accounting for differences in age, sex and geography, Black Caribbean deaths are still 1.7 times those of White British, Pakistani deaths are 2.7 times as high, and Black African fatalities 3.5 times higher.
Household savings were lower than average among people of black African, black Caribbean or Bangladeshi descent.
Those of Indian heritage and the largely foreign-born “other white” group did not seem to be facing extra economic risks, the IFS added.
Meanwhile, the Royal College of Surgeons has said that NHS workers from black or ethnic minority groups should be removed from the frontline over concerns they are more vulnerable to coronavirus. Several Indian-origin medics have lost their lives on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.
Professor Neil Mortensen, president-elect of the RCS, said until experts work out why almost two-thirds of NHS staff killed by Covid-19 are from black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups they should be shielded.
“They (BAME people) are a particularly at-risk group. Like other at-risk groups, I think they need to not be put in positions where they're not quite so at risk. We don't really quite know why yet, but it's important they are removed from - if you like - from danger,” he told Sky News.
Figures have shown 63 per cent of the 100-plus health and social care workers who have died from coronavirus were BAME.
The first ten doctors in the UK to die from coronavirus were all of BAME background, with many born overseas.