BAME groups ‘two to three times more likely to die from coronavirus’

BAME groups two to three times more likely to die from coronavirus Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are two to three times more likely to die from coronavirus, new research suggests.

The likelihood of death from Covid-19 is significantly higher among England’s BAME groups than the general population, analysis by University College London (UCL) scientists indicates.

They found the risk of death from the virus for black African groups was 3.24 times higher than the general population.

In people of Pakistani background it was 3.29 times higher, 2.41 times higher for Bangladeshi, black Caribbean was 2.21 times higher, and Indian was 1.7 times higher.

According to the study, which has not been peer reviewed, there was a lower risk of death from Covid-19 for white populations in England.

Rather than being an equaliser, this work shows that mortality with Covid-19 is disproportionately higher in black, Asian and minority ethnic groups

Dr Delan Devakumar

After accounting for region and age, the risk of death for white British was 12% (0.88 times) lower than that of the general population and white Irish was half (0.52 times) lower.

Co-author Dr Delan Devakumar, of the UCL Institute for Global Health, said: “Rather than being an equaliser, this work shows that mortality with Covid-19 is disproportionately higher in black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.

“It is essential to tackle the underlying social and economic risk factors and barriers to healthcare that lead to these unjust deaths.”

Lead author Dr Rob Aldridge, of UCL Institute of Health Informatics, said: “Our analyses show that several minority ethnic groups have a substantially higher risk of death from Covid-19 and that regional differences in where they live may explain some, but not all, of the differences between ethnic groups.

“After we took account of age and the geographical region for those people that died from Covid-19, there remained large differences in the risk of death between ethnic groups.

“White British and white Irish groups had a lower risk of death, but Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, black African and black Caribbean ethnic groups all had a substantially increased risk of death.”

According to the researchers, the findings are consistent with emerging global data and support the need for the UK Government to take urgent action to reduce the risk of death from Covid-19 for BAME groups.

Published in Wellcome Open Research, the study used NHS data of patients with a positive Covid-19 test who died hospitals in England from March 1 to April 21 this year.

Over the study period, the NHS data showed the total number of people who had tested positive for Covid-19 and died was 16,272.

Ethnicity was missing for 9.4% (1,537/16,272) of NHS England hospital deaths.

The largest total number of deaths in minority ethnic groups were Indian (492 deaths) and Black Caribbean (460 deaths) people.