70 VIPs call for independent inquiry into why more ethnic minorities are dying of covid-19 in UK
London, May 10, 2020 (AltAfrica)-More than 70 public figures are calling for a full independent public inquiry into deaths from Covid-19 among people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
They have signed a letter to the prime minister calling for more transparency.
Signatories include author Malorie Blackman, playwright, Kwame Kwei-Armah, and Baroness Doreen Lawrence.
Black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die with coronavirus as white people in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics.
There were at least 3,378 deaths of black and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals in hospitals in England up to 5 May.
This means that, where ethnicity is known, BAME people represented 17% of all deaths to this point.
“Only an independent public inquiry will provide the answers we need. Such an inquiry is essential for all, especially for those who have lost loved ones as a result of the pandemic,” the open letter to Boris Johnson says.
A scientific review by Public Health England (PHE) into the impact of Covid-19 on frontline workers from ethnic minority backgrounds and the wider community is already under way.
The rapid review, which is due to report by the end of the month, will examine health records to try to establish more “robust” data on emerging evidence that the virus is having a disproportionate effect on certain groups
The Office for National Statistics analysis shows the inequality in death rates between black and white people persists after taking into account age, where people live, and some measures of deprivation and prior health.
People from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities also had a significantly higher risk of dying.
The Labour Party has announced its own review into coronavirus impact on black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, headed by Baroness Lawrence.
The campaigner and mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has been appointed as Labour’s race relations adviser by leader Sir Keir Starmer.
The 2011 census – the most accurate source – showed that 14.5% of the English population were from BAME backgrounds. But clearly the proportion may have grown since then.
In 2016, the Office for National Statistics estimated that it could have increased to 15.4% of the population.
Using these estimates, the figures show there have been 36 deaths with coronavirus for every 100,000 white people. The figure for Asian people is slightly less at 33 per 100,000 people.
However, it jumps to 56 deaths with coronavirus for every 100,000 black people and 59 per 100,000 individuals from other ethnic minority backgrounds.
Similar breakdowns by ethnicity for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not currently available.
Further evidence shows that a third of all critically-ill coronavirus patients were from BAME backgrounds.
The research from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) is based on 6,770 patients from intensive care units across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Some of the highest death and hospitalisation rates during the outbreak have been in London, where 40% of the population are from ethnic minority backgrounds (according to the 2011 census).
But even when you adjust for where the coronavirus outbreak has hit hardest, both the Office for National Statistics and think-tank Institute for Fiscal Studies have concluded that ethnic minorities are being disproportionately impacted.
Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that if we only looked at where BAME communities were concentrated, we might expect to see higher death rates than that for white British individuals.
However, the research says that this geographical factor is counter-balanced by the factor of age.
Most ethnic minorities are much younger than white Britons – and therefore should be less susceptible to the virus.
The IFS concludes that, if we look at both geography and age combined, the death rate should be lower for most ethnicities than for white people.