Coronavirus

Genetics are not to blame for higher COVID-19 death rates among BAME communities

Genetics are not to blame for why ethnic minority communities are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19, researchers have said.

A review conducted by the Government’s Race Disparity Unit said the risk of dying from coronavirus is increased among black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) groups because they are more likely to catch it.

Their research also compared death rates between white people and ethnic minorities and they also found that the gap had narrowed during the second wave of the virus, although rates remained high Bangladeshi and Pakistani people.

The report authors wrote: “These findings strengthen the argument that ethnic minorities should not be considered a single group that faces similar risk factors in relation to COVID-19. Different ethnic groups have experienced different outcomes during both waves of the virus.”

The research also investigated people’s personal experiences of COVID-19 among a small group of ethnic minorities.

Some people said they felt that coronavirus communications tended to frame ethnic minorities as a “homogeneous group that is vulnerable to COVID-19, which they found stigmatising”.

The authors wrote: “It is vital to understand the differences between ethnic groups, rather than using ‘BAME’ as an aggregate, and to consider the circumstances that may have contributed to health inequalities from COVID-19, as different ethnic groups experience different outcomes.”

They also looked at previous vaccination programmes which have shown uptake is lower in Black African and Black Caribbean groups. The authors said they believe black adults are still the “least likely” group to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

More research into the subject has shown that accepting the coronavirus is lower in black and south Asian people who are over 80.

The report concluded: The government will continue to tailor its communications strategy on vaccine roll out to reflect the latest evidence on vaccine uptake among ethnic minority groups.”

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