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UK statistics find Indians among ethnicities with a higher risk of COVID-19 deaths

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Indians are among the ethnicities that face a statistically higher risk of death involving COVID-19 compared with those of white ethnicity, according to the latest UK statistics on the coronavirus pandemic released on Thursday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found in its COVID-19-related deaths by ethnic group analysis for England and Wales between March 2 and April 10 that 483 Indian-origin people died from the deadly virus, with a majority falling within the over 65 categories at 401.

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“This provisional analysis has shown that the risk of death involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) among some ethnic groups is significantly higher than that of those of white ethnicity, the ONS said.

People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and mixed ethnicities also had a statistically significant raised risk of death involving COVID-19 compared with those of white ethnicity, it said.

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Males in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups were found to be 1.8 times more likely to have a COVID-19-related death than white males when age and other socio-demographic characteristics and measures of self-reported health and disability were taken into account; for females, the figure was 1.6 times more likely.

And, when taking into account age in the analysis, black males were found 4.2 times more likely to die from a COVID-19-related death and black females 4.3 times more likely than white ethnicity males and females.

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, the ONS concluded.

As ethnicity is not recorded on the death certificate in England and Wales, to undertake this analysis the ONS said deaths involving COVID-19 were linked to the last Census held in 2011 to ascertain the self-reported ethnicity of the deceased and other

demographic factors.

The figures came as London Mayor Sadiq Khan is leading calls for ethnicity to be recorded on death certificates to expose the disproportionate effect that COVID-19 and other illnesses are having on the UK capital’s black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

We need to fully expose the effect it is having on our communities, have honest conversations about what is behind it, why it is happening, and work hard to tackle these problems. That’s why I’m calling for greater transparency and bringing city leaders together to see what we can do, said the Pakistani-origin mayor.

The UK government launched a Public Health England-led review into the factors behind the ethnic disparity in COVID-19 deaths last month, with the Opposition Labour Party conducting its own research on the issue.

The Research and Innovation Forum of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) had found in a survey that medical and healthcare professionals from Indian and minority ethnic backgrounds similarly fall into a higher risk category of dying from the novel coronavirus in the UK. BAPIO has been among the many medical associations lobbying the government for steps to protect this vulnerable category of the National Health Service (NHS) workforce.

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