United Kingdom

Ethnic minorities up to 50% more likely to die from Covid

Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) Britons are up to 50 per cent more likely to die from coronavirus in hospital than white people, another study has found. 

Throughout the UK's epidemic, an overwhelming body of evidence has shown that minorities are at a disproportionate risk of catching and dying from the virus.

Fresh research, by Queen Mary University, found the risk of dying from Covid was 50 per cent greater in Asian Brits than white people. For black people, the risk was 30 per cent higher.  

The study looked at hospital patients during the first wave of the crisis and researchers adjusted for other factors such as age, sex, obesity and whether they smoked. 

The analysis of nearly 1,800 patients in hospitals in London also found the risk of falling critically ill and needing mechanical ventilation was 80 per cent greater in black Brits than white people at the first peak. For Asian patients the risk was 54 per cent larger.  

Researchers behind the study said they were shocked that minority patients were 'significantly younger in age' and 'less frail' than white patients, despite being at a bigger risk of falling seriously unwell. 

The team did not say what caused the risk and added that further research is needed to understand the reasons why those from Asian and black backgrounds have higher mortality from Covid.  

Experts believe BAME Brits are more likely to catch Covid in the first place because they live in deprived areas, use public transport, work public-facing jobs and live in overcrowded and multi-generational homes. 

Covid-19 is a disease that kills fewer than one in 100 people it infects, so the more people contract it, the greater chance of a fatality occurring. And the risk of serious complications is driven up by the fact ethnic minorities are more likely than white people to suffer from pre-existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

It comes amid fears that BAME Brits will refuse the coronavirus vaccine, with surveys showing up to 70 per cent say they are 'unlikely' to accept it.

SAGE — number 10's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies — has warned low uptake among minority groups poses a 'significant risk' to Britain's vaccine drive. 

Queen Mary University researches found the risk of dying from Covid was 50 per cent greater in Asian Brits than white people during the first wave. For black people, the risk was 30 per cent higher.

No10 hires PR firm to boost Covid vaccine uptake among BAME groups 

Number 10 has hired a PR firm to boost uptake of the jab among black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) groups, it was claimed today.

London-based Multicultural Marketing Consultancy (MMC) has been tasked with clamping down on vaccine misinformation and improving jab hesitancy among minorities, Huffington Post reports. 

MMC prides itself on its 'ability to connect with communities' at a 'grassroots level' through media and other channels, according to the company's website.

The firm has previously worked on No10 campaigns to increase awareness about prostate cancer in black men and female genital mutilation.

SAGE — number 10's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies — has warned low uptake among minority groups poses a 'significant risk' to Britain's vaccine drive.

The advisory panel has blamed years of 'structural and institutional racism and discrimination' for vaccine scepticism among BAME communities, mainly black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people.

It comes on the back of a major UK survey which found 72 per cent of black Britons were 'unlikely' or 'very unlikely' to get the Covid vaccines.     

MMC declined to comment when contacted by MailOnline.  

There is a suggestion that the inequality gap has actually widened since the latest study, which only look at patients between March and May, with numerous studies showing that death rates are between two to three times higher in BAME people.

Unlike other studies, it focused primarily on BAME people, with only 35.2 per cent of patients being white.

Black and Asian ethnicity patients were significantly younger – with median ages of 64 and 59 respectively – compared with 73 in the white group, the researchers said. 

Of the patients in the study, 511 had died within 30 days of contracting the infection (29 per cent).  

The researchers said they were unable to assess a more detailed ethnicity breakdown. For example, previous studies have shown Bangladeshi and black African men to be at the highest risk.  

Dr Yize Wan, clinical lecturer at Queen Mary and lead author, said: 'Our study shows the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black and Asian groups in the first peak. 

'Black and Asian people admitted to Barts Health hospitals with Covid-19 were significantly younger in age, had greater acute disease severity, and higher mortality relative to white patients of the same age and baseline health.

'As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be seen within our community, the importance of responding to the ethnic disparities unmasked during the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial to prevent entrenching and inflicting them on future generations.'

Co-author Dr Vanessa Apea, consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at Barts Health NHS Trust, added: 'Authentic community based participatory research to understand the drivers of these differences, and co-creation of solutions are key to achieving health equity in these communities.'

The research team is now working on a new study to understand why BAME communities are so badly affected by the Covid-19 virus and address the lower uptake of the vaccine by people in these groups.

The Amplifying Lives study, funded by Barts Charity, will try to 'deep insight into the causes of Covid-19 based on the lived experience of East London's racially diverse communities through interviews and questionnaires'.

The researchers will work directly with local residents to understand their life before, and during, Covid-19. 

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