People in Britain from ethnic minorities have died in larger relative numbers with COVID-19 than their white compatriots, according to a study by British health authorities published Tuesday. But it didn’t answer the biggest question: Why?
The Public Health England study found that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had about twice the risk of death of white Britons.
It also found that “accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation and region … People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Caribbean and Other Black ethnicity had between 10 and 50% higher risk of death when compared to White British.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was inarguable that “being black or from a minority ethnic background is a major risk factor.”
“People are understandably angry about injustices … this pandemic has exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation,” he told lawmakers in the House of Commons.
The study didn’t account for factors such as obesity and other conditions that increase the risk of death with COVID-19, or for the jobs done by those who died.
Those are major considerations. The report said “an analysis of over 10,000 patients with COVID-19 admitted to intensive care in U.K. hospitals suggests that, once age, sex, obesity and comorbidities are taken into account, there is no difference in the likelihood of being admitted to intensive care or of dying between ethnic groups.”
The study also looked at risk based on other factors including sex and occupation, and found that working-age men were twice as likely to die as working-age women.
“There is much more work to do to understand the key drivers of these disparities, the relationships between the different risk factors and what we can do to close the gap,” Hancock said.
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