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Ethnic differences in Covid deaths are the result of economics

19/10/20 . News

Official ONS research suggests that social and economic factors are to blame for the higher rates of Covid-19 deaths among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities rather than medical ones.

The report published this month by the Office for National Statistics confirms far higher death rates among BAME communities. In England and Wales, males of Black African ethnic background had the highest death rate from Covid-19. It was 2.7 times higher than males of White ethnic background. Indeed, all ethnic minority groups other than Chinese had a higher rate than the White ethnic population for both males and females.

The report then took into account various other factors including geography, socio-economic characteristics and health status, including pre-existing conditions. This analysis concluded that higher prevalence of underlying conditions was not the cause. The ethnic differences in mortality were 'most strongly associated' with demographic and socio-economic factors, such as place of residence and occupational exposure. 

Ben Humberstone, the deputy director of the ONS's Health and Life Events Division said: 

Using more detailed ethnic group categories and adding measures of pre-existing health conditions from hospital data we have been able to build on previous analyses of ethnic disparities in Covid-19 mortality.

Today’s report confirms that when adjusting for age, rates of death involving Covid-19 remain greater for most ethnic minority groups, and most notably so for people of Black African, Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic background.

Our statistical modelling shows that a large proportion of the difference in the risk of Covid-19 mortality between ethnic groups can be explained by demographic, geographical and socioeconomic factors, such as where you live or the occupation you’re in. It also found that although specific pre-existing conditions place people at greater risk of Covid-19 mortality generally, it does not explain the remaining ethnic background differences in mortality.

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