People from ethnic minorities have died from COVID-19 in larger relative numbers in England than their white compatriots, according to a study published by health authorities Tuesday.

The Public Health England report hinted at reasons for the discrepancy but didn’t offer any recommendations. The government didn’t offer any solutions, prompting concerns that people from black, Asian and other minority backgrounds will still face a disproportionate risk if there is a second spike in the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr. Kailash Chand, a former deputy chair at the British Medical Association, said the report could be viewed as a “whitewash” for failing to deliver recommendations.

“This was something to show that they were appearing to do something,” he said.

The study, commissioned by the government in April at the height of the U.K. outbreak, found that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had about twice the risk of death from the virus as white Britons. It said people of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other black backgrounds also had a higher risk of death than white Britons – of between 10% and 50%.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was inarguable that “being black or from a minority ethnic background is a major risk factor” in the pandemic.

“This is a particularly timely publication because right across the world people are angry about racial injustice,” Hancock said at a news conference, referring to unrest in the United States over the death of unarmed black man George Floyd while he was being detained by police.

“I get that,” Hancock said of people’s anger. “Black lives matter.”

Hancock said the government would investigate the issues involved in the coming weeks and months.

“I totally understand the urgency, the importance and the sensitivity of getting this right,” he said.

The main opposition Labour Party said the government must act now to protect ethnic-minority groups. It said the review, which drew on official statistics and other data, largely confirmed what was already known about racial and health inequalities.

“When it comes to the question of how we reduce these disparities, it is notably silent,” said Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s equalities spokeswoman. “The government must not wait any longer to mitigate the risks faced by these communities.”

The study did not take account of factors such as obesity — which increases the risk of death from the coronavirus — or the occupations of those who have died.

Those are major considerations. The study found that care workers, security guards and road transport drivers, all jobs in which ethnic minority workers are strongly represented, had significantly higher than average death rates.

The report noted that an analysis of over 10,000 patients with COVID-19 admitted to intensive care in U.K. hospitals suggested 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.”

Dr. Veena Raleigh, a senior fellow at health care think tank the King’s Fund, said the report highlighted “profound inequalities” but that there were still some “very big unanswered questions” about the virus’ impact on ethnic groups.

“This is not a lightbulb moment,” the epidemiologist said.

The study confirmed that the biggest risk factor with COVID-19 is age, with people aged 80 or over 70 times more likely to die from the virus than those aged under 40.

It also found that working age men were twice as likely to die as working age women, and that people living in deprived areas were more likely to die than those in affluent areas.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the broader context of entrenched racial inequality across all areas of life needs to be addressed.

“Only a comprehensive race equality strategy will address these issues,” she said. “Now is a once in a generation opportunity for government to deliver one.”

Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at and

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Shares cruise to three-month highs, dollar shows the strain

LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks climbed towards three-month highs on Tuesday as the global coronavirus recovery effort won out over U.S.-China tensions and the worst civil unrest in the United States in decades. U.S. President Donald Trump’s vow to use…

Canada, isolated over Huawei 5G, is studying British decision

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada, the only member of an elite intelligence-sharing network yet to decide whether to allow the use of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd 5G technology, on Tuesday said it was studying Britain’s decision not to ban the Chinese…

China’s mobile apps expand in Jan-April

BEIJING – The number of mobile apps expanded in the Chinese market in the first four months while those for music and video reported robust downloads. About 3.59 million mobile apps were available in China by the end of April,…

In 30 minutes, Dong makes 100m yuan in sales

Gree Electric Chairperson Dong Mingzhu sold 100 million yuan ($14.1 million) in products via livestream on Sunday, Sina Finance reported on Monday. Dong attended the livestream via Kuaishou, a leading Chinese online short video platform, on May 10, Mother’s Day…