Coronavirus patients from black African backgrounds in England and Wales are dying at more than triple the rate of white Britons, according to analysis by the London-based Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS).
The study found that after eliminating age and geography, people from black African backgrounds were 3.7 times as likely to die in hospital from the disease than their white British counterparts.
The report which compared six groups — white other, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, black African and black Caribbean — to their white British peers, found various black, Asian and minority ethnic groups were experiencing higher per capita deaths.
Indian, black Caribbean and “other white” ethnic groups also had excess fatalities, though the difference with the white British group is smaller.
The IFS study also revealed that given demographic and geographic profiles, most minority ethnic groups are dying in “excess” numbers in hospitals.
Ross Warwick, a research economist at IFS, said there was “no single explanation and different factors may be more important for different groups”.
“Black Africans are particularly likely to be employed in key worker roles which might put them at risk,” he said, “while older Bangladeshis appear vulnerable on the basis of underlying health conditions.”
More than 20% of black African women are employed in health and social care roles while Pakistani men are 90% more likely to work in healthcare roles than their white British counterparts.
Similarly, while Indians make up just 3% of the working population in England and Wales, they account for 14% of doctors, according to the research.
A BBC News analysis of 135 healthcare workers whose deaths have been publicly announced found 84 were from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Within this, 29 are reportedly from black communities; 26 from South Asian backgrounds; 23 from East Asian backgrounds, of which 17 are Filipino; and four from Arabic backgrounds.
Similarly in the US, the novel coronavirus appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate according to an analysis by the Washington post.
The Post analysis revealed that counties that are majority-black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority.
Minority groups are also more economically vulnerable to the virus, according to the study, due to working in sectors currently shut down in the UK, such as the restaurant and taxi industry.
The deaths of those in minority communities gained widespread public attention in April, after several UK health workers from diverse backgrounds died from coronavirus.
Questions on the issue were raised by British media. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at the time that he found the deaths “upsetting,” in an interview with the BBC.
The UK government has since ordered an inquiry into the issue.