Racism and social inequality have contributed to the increased risk of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities (BAME) contracting and dying from Covid-19, according to a new study.
The report – from Public Health England (PHE) and based on stakeholder engagement with 4,000 people – found that historic racism may mean people are discriminated against when it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE) and may result in people from BAME backgrounds being less likely to seek care or demand better protection.
The report points to a raft of recommendations from stakeholders, including the need to develop “occupational risk assessment tools that can be employed in a variety of occupational settings and used to reduce the risk of employee’s exposure to and acquisition of Covid-19”.
This is especially true for BAME workers in health social care and on the front line in occupations that put them at higher risk, it said.
The report added: “Ethnic inequalities in health and wellbeing in the UK existed before Covid-19 and the pandemic has made these disparities more apparent and undoubtedly exacerbated them.
“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, cardiovascular disease and asthma.
“Unpacking the relative contributions made by different factors is challenging as they do not all act independently.
“The engagement sessions highlighted the BAME group’s deep concern and anxiety that if lessons are not learnt from this initial phase of the epidemic, future waves of the disease could again have severe and disproportionate impacts.”
At the weekend, shadow justice secretary David Lammy said it was a “scandal” that the recommendations in the study had been “buried”.
It comes after the Government was accused of holding back this second PHE report when a first report on the issue was published at the start of June.
The first report looked at why people from BAME communities may be at higher risk from Covid-19 but made no recommendations and made no reference to the 17 sessions held with stakeholders.