Coronavirus: We're not all in this together

Dr William Bird William Bird
Coronavirus: We're not all in this together. by William Bird

A report has recently been released by Public Health England, revealing that people from BAME backgrounds are disproportionately affected by Covid 19.

Dr William Bird, CEO of Intelligent Health, and the founder of the Beat the Street game has a look at why this might be and what can be done to rectify this.

Public Health England has recently released a report confirming that the risk of dying of Covid-19 if you are black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME), is much higher than for those in white ethnic groups.

The report shows that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity are twice as likely to die than people who are white British. Other ethnicities are between 10% and 50% more likely to die if they contract Coronavirus.

Not only are people from these groups more likely to die of Covid-19, but they are also more likely to catch the virus. In April in the UK, of the first patients with confirmed Covid-19, 35% were non-white while the proportion of non-white people in England and Wales is just 14%.

So why is this?

Firstly, people from certain ethnic groups are statistically more likely to suffer from comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease which make them less likely to recover from Coronavirus. This is because these particular disorders can alter the immune system, making it less able to fight the virus.

Cardiovascular disease is more prevalent in people of Bangladeshi or Pakistani backgrounds and black people have higher rates of hypertension.

While this may be partly be attributed to genes that alter the body’s physiology, there are a number of other factors at play. People from minority groups are more likely to work in riskier, public-facing jobs such as hospital staff, security guards and bus drivers.

For various reasons, they may find it difficult to speak out about the dangers of working without protection, or even may not be listened to.

It has been well documented that people from BAME backgrounds are more likely to live in poverty ( Joseph Rowntree Foundation ) in deprived areas, are more likely to be unemployed, have poorer educational attainment and perhaps live in more crowded housing where generations of the family live under the same roof.

In a week where there have been protests and awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coronavirus has shown up these inequalities. It also shows that we can all do something to help, whether that is by treating everyone with respect, no matter what their background; ensuring everyone gets heard; creating fair workplaces, equal access to education, sport and activity and standing up for inclusivity.