Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Campaign response – BAME Covid Deaths

A few constituents have recently written in asking about the report into BAME Covid-19 deaths.

I am pleased to inform them that a PHE report titled “COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes” has now been published as of 2 June:

A substantial part of this report is devoted to examining ethnicity as a factor in Covid-19.

I of course share constituents concerns that the reports has found evidence suggesting that BAME groups are at greater risk of death from Covid-19. I note that many parliamentarians from across the benches have now raised this issue and DHSC ministers have committed to prioritising action in addressing this issue.

But what is also clear that that the causal relationship between ethnicity and Covid-19 mortality rates is not as straight forward as some have made it out to be. Constituents may find the below section from chapter 4 of the report helpful:

“The relationship between ethnicity and health is complex and likely to be the result of a combination of factors. Firstly, people of BAME communities are likely to be at increased risk of acquiring the infection. This is because BAME people are more likely to live in urban areas (18), in overcrowded households (19), in deprived areas (20), and have jobs that expose them to higher risk (21). People of BAME groups are also more likely than people of White British ethnicity to be born abroad (22), which means they may face additional barriers in accessing services that are created by, for example, cultural and language differences.

Secondly, people of BAME communities are also likely to be at increased risk of poorer outcomes once they acquire the infection. For example, some co-morbidities which increase the risk of poorer outcomes from COVID-19 are more common among certain ethnic groups. People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani background have higher rates of cardiovascular disease than people from White British ethnicity (23), and people of Black Caribbean and Black African ethnicity have higher rates of hypertension compared with other ethnic groups (24). Data from the National Diabetes Audit suggests that type II diabetes prevalence is higher in people from BAME communities (25).”

As Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, I will continue to support the work of DHSC to combat the spread of Covid-19 among BAME groups.