Black and Asian people in England are up to 50% more likely to die after becoming infected with COVID-19, an official study said on Tuesday, putting pressure on the government to outline plans to protect the most at-risk communities.
While the report by Public Health England (PHE) reinforced previous studies that indicated ethnic minority groups were more at risk from the virus, it was not accompanied by specific government advice for those people.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that equalities minister Kemi Badenoch would look at the issue further.
“We will put the action in place as soon as we can. We won’t wait for a report,” Hancock said.
Doctors, politicians, and footballers have been among those vocal in expressing concern about the unexplained higher mortalities in ethnic minorities.
The report said that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had approximately twice the risk of death of people who were white British.
Those of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, or other Asian ethnicities, as well as those of the Caribbean or other Black ethnicity, had between a 10 to 50% higher risk of death than those in the white British group, PHE said.
The findings echo a previous study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released last month.
Britain’s testing chief John Newton said although Tuesday’s report showed worse outcomes for minority groups, it may not be directly caused by their ethnicity.
“It may be related to their occupation or to other reasons why they might be at a higher level of exposure,” he said.
The report was published a day before planned protests in London about the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died after a white policeman pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.