London, June 14: Racism, discrimination and social inequalities could be factors behind the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on Britain’s black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, according to a leaked report yet to be published by the UK government.
Historic racism may mean that people are less likely to seek care or to demand better personal protective equipment (PPE), the leaked draft seen by the BBC claims.
“The unequal impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities may be explained by a number of factors ranging from social and economic inequalities, racism, discrimination and stigma, occupational risk, inequalities in the prevalence of conditions that increase the severity of disease including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and asthma,” the draft is quoted as saying.
The document, which was linked to a wider review by Public Health England (PHE) into the higher risk faced by some communities from the deadly virus, is at the centre of a row as it emerged earlier this week that it had been held back from publication. The Opposition has branded its non-publication a scandal , while other groups including doctors’ unions have demanded its speedy publication.
I’m finding it inexplicable the government did not release the full report at a time not only when the BAME community suffered so disproportionately with the virus, but also at a time when there was global outcry and outrage to racial inequalities, said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Council Chair of the British Medical Association (BMA).
PHE has said that it intends to publish the review next week.
Without recommendations there can be no actions. It needs to be published next week and those who have denied its existence must apologise to the public, said Prof. Bhopal, Emeritus Professor of Public Health at the Usher Institute, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, at the University of Edinburgh.
The Indian-origin academic had earlier revealed that he had peer-reviewed the nearly 69-page draft, which had evidence from thousands of individuals and organisations. It was intended as a complementary part of PHE’s Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19′ report tabled in the House of Commons last week by UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
It is a scandal if one week Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock say black lives matter and then we find out today that they have buried part of the review that had the recommendations in it to do something about it,” said Opposition Labour MP David Lammy.
“It is no wonder why people are upset, this is a very, very serious business, the statistics are grim, again, you are in government do something about it save lives,” he said.
The PHE report’s main findings indicated that older Indian-origin men were within a higher risk category of coronavirus deaths in England, with overall people of Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Caribbean, Other Black ethnicity and Chinese ethnicities between 10 and 50 per cent at higher risk of death when compared to White British people.
Those of Bangladeshi heritage were found to be dying at twice the rate of white Britons, black males at the rate of 3.9 times and Asian males at 2.5 times.
The outcome had triggered widespread reactions across the board, including from MPs in Parliament as well as groups such as the British Association of Physicians of Indian-origin (BAPIO) raising concerns over the lack of any corresponding recommendations or safety measures attached to the review after weeks of research. (PTI)