Black people are four times more likely to die from a coronavirus-related cause than white people, new analysis suggests.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has used data on death registrations up to April 17, combined with 2011 Census records, to model the impact Covid-19 is having on different ethnic groups, finding Black women and girls are 4.3 times more likely to die than their white counterparts, and black men and boys 4.2 times more likely than white men and boys.
The figures, which have been adjusted for age, suggest that men and women from all ethnic minority groups – except females with Chinese ethnicity – are at greater risk of dying from Covid-19 compared with those of white ethnicity.
The ONS analysis also suggests that, accounting for age, males of Bangladeshi/Pakistani ethnicity are 3.6 times more likely to die from a Covid-19-related cause than white males, while the equivalent figure for Bangladeshi/Pakistani females is 3.4.
Males of Indian ethnicity are 2.4 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males. The figure for females of Indian ethnicity is slightly higher, at 2.7.
For the Chinese ethnic group, the ONS found a raised risk among males but not females. Males are 1.9 times more likely to die from Covid-19, while the figure for females is 1.2.
Shadow justice secretary David Lammy said the figures showing black people and other ethnic minority groups were at greater risk of death from Covid-19 were “appalling”.
He tweeted: “It is urgent the causes of this disproportionality are investigated. Action must be taken to protect black men and women – as well as people from all backgrounds – from the virus.”
The analysis looked at how coronavirus has affected different ethnic groups from March 2 to April 10, registered by April 17.
As ethnicity is not recorded on death certificates, the ONS linked these to the 2011 Census, which includes self-reported ethnicity.
The ONS said the results suggest that the difference is partly due to socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but some of the reasons remain unexplained.
In mid-April, the Department for Health and Social Care announced they would launch an inquiry into this issue to establish why so many people from BAME backgrounds are dying.
Early reports suggest a number of factors, including underlying health conditions, like type 2 diabetes or increased heart conditions.
The disproportionate number of deaths have also been clear in our health service.
After taking account of other factors, such as health and disability, Black men and women were still 1.9 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those of white ethnicity.
The ONS acknowledged that because its analysis of population characteristics is linked to the 2011 Census, it may not accurately reflect the current circumstances in 2020.
The differences in the risk of dying from Covid-19 could be driven by factors not included in its model, the ONS said.
Some ethnic groups may be over-represented in public-facing occupations and could be more likely to be infected by Covid-19. For example, individuals in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic group are overrepresented in the transport industry.
The ONS said it plans to conduct further work to identify occupations that are particularly at risk.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Any death from this virus is a tragedy and we are working incredibly hard to protect the nation’s public health.
“We’re aware that this virus has sadly appeared to have a disproportionate effect on people from BAME backgrounds. It is critical we find out which groups are most at risk so we can take the right steps to protect them and minimise their risk.
“We have commissioned Public Health England to better understand the different factors, such as ethnicity, obesity and geographical location, that may influence the effects of the virus.”