By Claire Gordon • 03 December 2021 • 14:30
The Covid death rates are higher amongst black and Asian groups than they are amongst white people, the latest data has shown. A government advisor on Covid-19 and ethnicity has said that this is “almost certainly” down to differences in vaccine uptake and that the information is being used to target the next round of the vaccination programme.
Deaths overall are lower than they were during the first and second UK waves of the pandemic but disparities remain between the groups due to the gaps in vaccination rates. Experts are calling on everyone to get their first, second and third jabs as soon as possible to level out the field.
Dr Raghib Ali, the government’s independent adviser on Covid-19 and ethnicity, said “nearly all” the previous trends have reversed in the third wave.
Infection rates are now highest in white people, having risen between the second and third waves, in areas previous less affected such as the southwest, in the least deprived areas and least densely populated areas.
He told a media briefing: “This almost certainly reflects the overall immunity based on natural infection, particularly, because London for example has the lowest vaccination rates but also the lowest infection rates at the moment, which really can be only due to differences in natural immunity.
“The problem, unfortunately, is that despite still having lower infection rates for south Asians and blacks in this third wave, their hospital rates and death rates are still higher than whites and this almost certainly sadly reflects the difference in vaccination rates.”
Dr Ali said that the vaccination rates are improving in certain groups over the past months, but that the gap is still there. The biggest increase in uptake over the six months leading to October 2021 was among older black African and Pakistani people.
Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said understanding of the various Covid death rates and how different groups are affected by the virus has been “transformed” since the start of the outbreak.
She said: “We know now that factors like the job someone does, where they live, and how many people they live with, impacts how susceptible they are to the virus and it’s imperative that those more at risk get their booster vaccine.”
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