The Government must address how racial discrimination and economic disadvantage has affected ethnic minority communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health Foundation has said.
According to data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, people from all ethnic minority groups (except for women in the Chinese or ‘White Other’ ethnic groups) had higher rates of death involving the coronavirus compared with the White British population. The rate of death involving COVID-19 was highest for the Black African group (3.7 times greater than for the White British group for males, and 2.6 greater for females), followed by the Bangladeshi (3.0 for males, 1.9 for females), Black Caribbean (2.7 for males, 1.8 for females) and Pakistani (2.2 for males, 2.0 for females) ethnic groups.
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'There is no doubt that ethnic minority communities have been hit harder by the COVID-19 crisis and have faced higher risk of death,’ said Health Foundation Senior Research Fellow, Mehrunisha Suleman.
‘As part of our ongoing COVID-19 impact inquiry, we have gathered compelling evidence into how existing inequalities have worsened, with ethnic minority communities more likely to be working outside of the home, using public transport or living in overcrowded accommodation, increasing the risk of virus transmission.’
While males and females of Black Caribbean and Black African background remained at elevated risk in the second wave, the relative risk compared with White British people was reduced compared with the first wave. Adjusting for location, measures of disadvantage, occupation, living arrangements and pre-existing health conditions accounted for a large proportion of the excess COVID-19 mortality risk in most ethnic minority groups; however, most Black and South Asian groups remained at higher risk than White British people in the second wave even after adjustments.
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'As we seek to recover from the pandemic, it is essential that the Government addresses the ways in which racial discrimination and economic disadvantage have disproportionately impacted these communities,’ added Ms Suleman.
‘While the speed of the vaccine roll-out is encouraging, we need to ensure all communities have confidence in and can easily access vaccines, particularly in the South Asian community where mortality was higher in the second wave. This will ensure that no groups are left behind.'