Coronavirus Does Not Discriminate. Or, Does It?

It is often said that coronavirus does not discriminate. But that could well be off the mark. There is “emerging evidence” to suggest coronavirus In UK is having a disproportionate impact on people who are black, Asian and minority ethnic.

Research suggests that more than a third of patients who are critically ill in hospital with the virus are from these backgrounds.

Only 14% of people in England and Wales are from ethnic minority backgrounds, according to the 2011 census.

However, the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre found that 34% of more than 3,000 critically ill coronavirus patients identified as black, Asian or minority ethnic.

On Saturday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock addressed the fact that a number of health workers who have died from coronavirus were from “minority ethnic backgrounds.

In an interview with the British daily The Guardian, the head of the the doctors’ union, the British Medical Association (BMA), called for a government investigation into whether minorities were more vulnerable to Covid-19.

“At face value, it seems hard to see how this can be random,” Dr. Chaand Nagpaul said in reference to the first 10 doctors in the UK to be named as having died from coronavirus-related symptoms coming from minority backgrounds, according to The Guardian.

Since the outbreak took hold in the UK, coronavirus cases have been concentrated in London – the top ten worst affected areas in England are located there.

according to BBC, black and and other minority ethnic individuals make up a large share of jobs considered essential in tackling the virus.

One in five people working for the NHS in England, for example, is from an ethnic minority background, however these numbers are even higher when we look solely at doctors and nurses. NHS has always been heavily dependent on ethnic minority staff, who today make up 40% of its workforce – more then double their proportion in the UK population.

A number of doctors and nurses who have died in the UK were from immigrant backgrounds.

According to a report published in The Guardian, people in poor areas were already four times more likely to die from avoidable causes, and the link between deprivation and life expectancy has, in some cases, been getting worse. So the potential for Covid-19 to wreak havoc with this disparity seemed obvious, given that it is a disease which adversely affects people with existing health vulnerabilities.

To see the scary reality of racial inequality taken to extreme proportions during this pandemic, look to the United States. The tragic consequences have reached all parts of the nation. In Michigan, 15% of the population but 40% of the deaths are black. Chicago has a 30% African American population, and a 70% African American death rate. The picture from Louisiana is very similar: a 32% black population, with a 70% death rate.

Meanwhile, Labour Party of the UK has called for a government inquiry into why black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people are more vulnerable to coronavirus.

Shadow equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova said the disproportionate number of deaths of doctors from these communities in the UK was “deeply disturbing”.

“It reflects the shocking underlying inequalities facing BAME communities as a whole, who are disproportionately represented in the numbers of people getting the virus,” she said.

 

 

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