Social economic factors play part in high proportion of Covid-19 ethnic minority patients, GP says

Social economic factors and overcrowding has played a part in Covid-19 being more prevalent among black and Asian communities, a GP told ITV News.

Dr Gero Baiarda was speaking after the latest figures from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) found more than a third of patients who are critically ill in hospital with the virus are from a BAME background.

The data found ethnic minorities are over-represented compared with the general population - out of almost 2,000 patients with Covid-19, 13.6% were black, 13.8% were Asian, and 6.6% were described as other.

In the UK 2011 census, about 7.5% of the population were Asian and 3.3% black.

Credit: PA

"I was flabbergasted by the figures as I think many of my colleagues were, many of my friends and colleagues are black and Asian or from ethnic minorities and with the call to arms for doctors who are retired to come back to work on the frontline NHS, many would be black and Asian," Dr Baiarda said.

He looked into the trend of the virus disproportionately affecting ethnic minorities and said social economic factors play a part, as does the fact diabetes and heart disease is more prevalent in black and Asian communities.

Dr Baiarda told ITV News: "There's more overcrowding, and black and Asian communities live in less affluent areas and in multi generational houses, with parents and grandparents and children all living together so social distancing is very difficult.

"I also became aware there was research into the Vitamin D deficit that tends to occur in black and Asian people because of the amount of pigment in their skin, and that could be contributing to the lack of immunity that has caused Covid to be so much more severe in these populations."

Diabetes and heart disease are prevalent in black and Asian communities. Credit: PA

He said the advice to use outdoor space is not helpful if you do not have a garden of your own, so suggested those deficient in Vitamin D should take a supplement or eat foods rich in the vitamin, such as oily fish, kippers, salmon, egg yolks and milk.

However he said it's difficult to supplement Vitamin D with just diet alone, and people must go outside and enjoy the sun - although he added social distancing must be maintained.

The Department of Health said it is working with Public Health England to investigate emerging evidence that people from ethnic minorities seem to be more susceptible to contracting coronavirus.

Dr Baiarda said he welcomed the investigation, but added: "It will take some time for their conclusions to be verified when there is a crisis unfolding around our ears as we speak."