Black people in the United Kingdom are more than four times as likely to die from coronavirus than white people, the UK’s statistics office said on Thursday.
Those of Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity also have a significantly higher chance of dying from COVID-19 than white people, even when adjusting for deprivation, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
“These results show that the difference between ethnic groups in COVID-19 mortality is partly a result of socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but a remaining part of the difference has not yet been explained,” ONS said.
Using models that adjusted for a range of socioeconomic factors, the statistics office said it was clear that there were significant differences in the risk of dying of COVID-19 among different ethnic groups.
“The risk of death involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) among some ethnic groups is significantly higher than that of those of white ethnicity,” ONS said.
“People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and Mixed ethnicities also had statistically significant raised risk of death involving COVID-19 compared with those of white ethnicity.”
Scientists studying the novel coronavirus caution that there were vast holes in their knowledge and cite striking differences in the death rates based on age, sex and ethnicity.
Genetics, they say, might hold many clues that could help eventually reveal a path to medicines or a vaccine that could treat the disease.
Without adjusting for a variety of factors including deprivation, education and health, the ONS found that Black males were 4.2 times more likely to die from a COVID-19-related cause and Black females were 4.3 times more likely than white ethnicity males and females.
The adjusted model showed that Black males and females were 1.9 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the white ethnic group.
Males of Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity are 1.8 times more likely to die, according to the adjusted model. Individuals from the Chinese and mixed ethnic group have similar risks to those with white ethnicity, the ONS said.
Data from the United States showed African Americans were more likely to die from COVID-19, highlighting long-standing disparities in health and inequalities in access to medical care.
In the UK, the government last month heeded calls to launch an inquiry into why ethnic minorities appear to be more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
Later, the main opposition Labour Party announced its own review.
Most doctors who have died on the UK’s front lines have been from non-white communities.
On Friday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said coronavirus patients from Black African backgrounds were dying in UK hospitals at more than three times the rate of white British people.