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7 May 2020updated 29 Jul 2021 11:04am

Black people four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people, ONS figures show

By Michael Goodier

Black men and women are four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white men and women, new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

The ONS analysed the ethnicity, age and social background of all 17,866 people to die from Covid-19 in England and Wales up to 10 April. It found that after adjusting for age, black men were 4.2 times more likely to die from coronavirus than white men, and black women were 4.3 times more likely to die than white women.

After adjusting for socio-economic factors, geography, levels of deprivation, and whether the people who died were already disabled or in ill-health, black males and females were still 1.9 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males and females. 

Other ethnic groups were also significantly more vulnerable than the white majority, after adjusting for age. People in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups were about 3.5 times more likely to die, while those in the Indian group were about 2.5 times more likely.

Odds of death ratio chart, accounting for age Odds of death ratio chart, accounting for socio-economic factors Several factors might account for the gap, which the ONS did not examine in detail. Certain ethnic groups might be over-represented in public-facing occupations, or “key worker” roles that have not been locked down. They might also be more likely to suffer from diseases that increase susceptibility to Covid-19, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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The study used data from the 2011 Census, meaning it might not accurately match the increasing ethnic diversity of the population in 2020.

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