Ethnic minorities now make up a higher proportion of Covid deaths than ever before, as experts warn jab hesitancy is starting to have a tragic impact
- Analysis shows Covid deaths among ethnic minorities risen by more than half
- Over winter about 12% of Covid-related deaths in England were in non-whites
- Figures likely underestimate number of Covid deaths in minority communities
People from ethnic minority backgrounds make up a higher proportion of Covid deaths than ever before, as vaccination hesitancy in black and Asian communities starts to have a tragic impact.
Analysis of weekly NHS statistics by The Mail on Sunday shows that the share of Covid deaths among those of ethnic or mixed descent has risen by more than half since the ‘winter wave’ ended in late March.
Over winter, about 12 per cent of Covid-related deaths in England were in non-whites. But since the start of June, the figure has been 19 per cent.
Last night, a leading expert said it was highly probable lower vaccination rates in ethnic groups had resulted in Covid deaths that could have been prevented
Meanwhile, the proportion of Covid-related deaths accounted for by England’s white majority, who make up 86 per cent of the population, has fallen from 80 per cent over the winter to 72 per cent now.
The poorest people in Britain are almost three times more likely not to have had their Covid jab than the richest, startling figures show.
Data compiled by Oxford University, based on tens of millions of GP records, shows 11.5 per cent of adults in the wealthiest fifth of society have not been vaccinated.
But among the poorest fifth, 30 per cent remain unvaccinated.
These figures are averages across adults of all ages, with the rich-poor divide even starker among young people. In adults under 30s from the wealthiest homes, 27 per cent have not had their first dose. But among the poorest under-30s, half have not had it.
Last night, experts said they feared the low vaccine take-up would dog the country’s poorest communities for years to come. Jo Bibby, of the Health Foundation think-tank, said: ‘Throughout the pandemic, it’s been poorer people who have had poorer [health] outcomes, largely because they have continued to have to work, and also because they have poorer underlying health. Sadly, this is going to lead to more of the same, because it’s the same groups who haven’t been vaccinated.’
She believed some poor people struggled to find the time to get jabbed or found getting to a vaccine centre difficult, while many did not trust the Government.
The figures are likely to underestimate the number of Covid deaths in minority communities, since in almost one in ten cases ethnicity is not recorded.
Last night, a leading expert said it was highly probable lower vaccination rates in ethnic groups had resulted in Covid deaths that could have been prevented.
Professor Paul Hunter, of the University of East Anglia, said: ‘You don’t have to be an epidemiologist to predict that the proportion of Covid deaths would increase in ethnic minorities, where vaccination rates have been lower.
‘It’s a grave reminder that if you haven’t been vaccinated, you should, as you will get Covid at some point in the future. When you do, if you haven’t had your vaccine yet, or been naturally infected with the virus before, your risk of dying of Covid is just as great as it was last year.’
Numerous reports have found that people from South Asian and black backgrounds are less likely to have been vaccinated than their white counterparts. New figures from Oxford University’s ‘Open Safely’ data project, based on GP records, show that 94 per cent of white over-50s have had one dose.
But only 86 per of South Asians over 50 have been jabbed, while the figure for black Britons over 50 is 70 per cent. Only 34 per cent of black British adults under 30 have been vaccinated, compared to 62 per cent of 18-to-29-year-olds as a whole.
Reasons include concerns among Muslims – dismissed by religious leaders – that the vaccines are not ‘halal’ (meaning allowed under Islamic law); lack of trust among black communities in health authorities; and reliance on social media which can be skewed towards ‘anti-vaxxer’ content.
Among those hit hardest so far in this summer’s wave are England’s Pakistani communities, who have some of the lowest vaccination rates. They make up two per cent of the population. During the winter wave they accounted for 2.2 per cent of Covid-related deaths. That proportion has doubled to 4.5 per cent in the current wave.
Overall, the proportion of Covid-related deaths among England’s Asian communities, who make up 7.5 per cent of the population, has risen from 7.2 per cent in the winter wave to 10.4 per cent in this wave.
Numerous reports have found that people from South Asian and black backgrounds are less likely to have been vaccinated than their white counterparts
Black Britons (of Caribbean, African or other heritage, who together comprise 3.3 per cent of the population) also account for a growing share of Covid-related deaths, rising from 2.4 per cent in the winter wave to 5.0 per cent this summer.
The figures chime with assessments by hospital bosses about their sickest patients in this wave. Recent board papers from University College Hospital London state: ‘Patients in ICU [the Intensive Care Unit] are mostly unvaccinated.’
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