Black people four times more likely to die with coronavirus than white people

7 May 2020, 11:01

Black males are 4.2 times more likely to die from Covid-related deaths
Black males are 4.2 times more likely to die from Covid-related deaths. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Black people are over four times more likely to die with coronavirus than white people, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

ONS analysis shows black males are 4.2 times more likely to die from a Covid-19 related death than white males, and black females 4.3 times more likely than white females.

The stats body used data on death registrations in England and Wales up to 17 April, combined with 2011 Census records, to gauge the impact coronavirus is having on different ethnic groups.

It suggests men and women from all ethnic minority groups, except for females from a Chinese background, are more likely to die from or with Covid-19 compared to white people.

The figures have been adjusted for age.

More than 100 healthcare workers have died during the coronavirus pandemic
More than 100 healthcare workers have died during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA

Although it is unclear why people from a BAME background are more affected, the ONS said the results could be down to socio-economic disadvantages and other circumstances.

However, many of the reasons remain unexplained.

Those from Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian and mixed ethnicities also showed a greater risk of death involving the disease.

The data analysed how the virus has affected different ethnic groups from 2 March to 10 April, registered by 17 April.

As ethnicity is not recorded on death certificates, the ONS linked these to the 2011 Census which includes self-reported ethnicity.

After taking account of other factors, such as health and disability, black men and women were 1.9 times more likely to die with Covid-19 than those of white ethnicity.

Overall, 83.8 per cent of the deaths occurred in people of white ethnicity, with black people making up the largest minority ethnic group, accounting for 6 per cent of the overall deaths recorded within the date range, the ONS said.

Its findings are similar to NHS England data which, when ethnicity could be established, found 82.7 per cent of deaths were in white people and 5.7 per cent in black people.

The ONS said a "substantial part of the difference in Covid-19 mortality between ethnic groups is explained by the different circumstances in which members of those groups are known to live, such as areas with socio-economic deprivation".

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It continued: "Geographic and socio-economic factors were accounting for over half of the difference in risk between males and females of black and white ethnicity.

"However, these factors do not explain all of the difference, suggesting that other causes are still to be identified."

It also suggested that some ethnic groups may be "over-represented in public-facing occupations" and therefore more likely to be infected.

Shadow justice secretary David Lammy described the new figures as "appalling."

The Labour MP for Tottenham tweeted: "It is urgent the causes of this disproportionality are investigated. Action must be taken to protect black men and women - as well as people from all backgrounds - from the virus."

Meanwhile, a separate study by University College London showed people from BAME communities are two to three times more likely to die with coronavirus.

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

It was 3.29 times higher for people of Pakistani background, 2.41 times higher for Bangladeshis, 2.21 times higher for those in the black Caribbean community, and 1.7 times higher for Indians.

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.

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

Marsha de Cordova MP, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, said: “These figures once again reveal the shocking scale of the impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities, and in particular on Black African and Caribbean men and women.

“This crisis has exposed and amplified economic, social and health injustices in our society.

“These underlying inequalities can no longer be ignored. The government must do all it can to protect all those who are affected by this virus.”