The King’s Fund response to latest data on Covid deaths and ethnicity

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Commenting on the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis on ethnic differences in Covid-19 mortality, Veena Raleigh, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, said:  

‘This latest update from the ONS confirms that the higher death rates from Covid-19 seen in some ethnic minority groups throughout the pandemic persisted during the Omicron wave1 . Covid-19 mortality remained highest for Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Black Caribbean groups compared with the White British population. This is deeply concerning given that rates of vaccine uptake remain low in these communities. Only about one-third of Pakistani and Black Caribbean adults, and less than half of Bangladeshi adults, have had three jabs, compared with 76 per cent in the White British and 70 per cent in the Indian and Chinese groups.  

‘In the decade preceding the pandemic, overall mortality was lower in most ethnic minority groups than in the White British and Mixed groups. This latest data shows that the trend has mostly continued throughout the pandemic, with the exception of Bangladeshi males and females, and Black Caribbean and Pakistani males, among whom higher Covid-19 mortality has reversed this earlier pattern. 

‘This is further testimony to the grossly disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on some ethnic minority groups, as it has had on all the poorest and most vulnerable groups in our society. If we are to ‘live with Covid’, then efforts to promote preventive measures and improve vaccine uptake in these communities must be strengthened. And if ministers want to meet their ‘levelling up’ ambitions, then addressing the underlying factors driving these and other deep-rooted health inequalities seen across the population must be a priority in the government’s post-Covid-19 recovery plans.’ 

  • 1The ONS define four different waves of Covid-19: ‘Wave one is defined to be from 24 January 2020 (the date when the first COVID-19 case was reported in the UK) to 11 September 2020; wave two is from 12 September 2020 to 12 June 2021; wave three is defined to be from 13 June 2021 to 9 January 2022; wave four is define to be from 10 January 2022 to 16 February 2022. 

Notes to editors

For more information or to request an interview, please contact The King's Fund media team on 07584 146035 (out of hours) or mediaoffice@kingsfund.org.uk .

The latest data was published at 9.30am 7 April and is available on the ONS Website: Updating ethnic contrasts in deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), England.

For further information on life expectancy and ethnicity please see the following resources on The King’s Fund website:   

The King’s Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organizations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible care is available to all.