By Tatiana Zaituni
Emerging evidence shows that people of Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are disproportionally impacted from COVID-19.
BAME communities make up 14% of the population in the UK but account for 18% of the COVID-19 deaths per capita according to a recent study from the Institution for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
In its research, IFS estimated that the deaths of people of black African heritage were 3.5 times higher than for white Britons.
IFS also reported that for people of black Caribbean heritage, per capita deaths were 1.7 times higher, rising to 2.7 times higher for those with Pakistani heritage.
Similarly, the category of ‘other white’ which includes Romani and Irish Traveller groups have ‘excess fatalities’ according to their analysis.
After conducting its own research, The Official of National Statistics found that black men are 4.2 times more likely to succumb to COVID-19 and Black women 4.3 times more likely than white males and females when taking into account their age.
However, after taking account of age and other sociodemographic characteristics and measures of self-reported health and disability, the risk of a COVID-19-related death for males and females of Black ethnicity reduced to 1.9 times more likely than those of White ethnicity.
People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and Mixed ethnicities also had a statistically significant raised risk of death involving COVID-19 compared with those of White ethnicity.
After these findings were published, it was announced that Professor Kevin Fenton, the regional director for London at Public Health England, will be leading a government review into the findings
In order to achieve a full conclusive review, it will be vital to account for all the other factors explaining the deaths of COVID-19 in hospitals in England, Wale, and Scotland.
They will include underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension which are prevalent in non-white ethnic groups, and in turn, puts people at greater risk of becoming more critically ill if they are infected with the virus.
Another factor that will be taken into account is the socioeconomic situation of many people from a minority ethnic background in the UK.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are over-represented in poor, overcrowded housing or household with multi-generations all living under one roof.
Government statistics say that almost a third of Bangladeshi households are classified as overcrowded as are 15% of black African households.
By contrast, only 2% of white British households are classified as overcrowded.
BAME individuals are also more likely to work in what are considered low pay and low skilled jobs. The very same jobs that are now considered essential in this time of pandemic.
BAME communities make up a large share of essential worker roles both directly and indirectly tackling the virus around the country, which increases their risk of getting infected by the virus.
At the end of the day, most people do not have the luxury to self-isolate or just not work during the lockdown. It remains to be seen what will be done to further support these communities in particular.