PDA Statement on the PHE report: Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19

The report by Public Health England regarding COVID-19’s disproportionate effect on people from ethnic minorities was released yesterday, 2nd of June.

Wed 3rd June 2020 The PDA

The report by Public Health England regarding COVID-19’s disproportionate effect on people from ethnic minorities was released yesterday, 2nd of June. The report looked at factors like sex, age, deprivation, ethnicity, occupation and more in their descriptive review of data on the disparities in the risk from COVID-19.

  • Age had the largest impact, with those 80 and older seventy times more likely to die than those under 40.
  • Males were at a higher risk of dying from coronavirus than females, as well as those living in more deprived areas.
  • The report confirmed that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups were more at risk than White ethnic groups.

Whilst the review has an extensive range, the PDA is disappointed that it fails to discuss the potential reasons why BAME individuals are at a higher risk in any depth. The disparity in risk was first officially confirmed by a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which was published on 7th May. The ONS report already told us that BAME individuals were at greater risk and the PHE report does not offer much greater insight on first examination.

A potentially more serious charge is that this report, coming nearly a month after the ONS report release in May, provides no meaningful guidance on what steps employers and those at risk should be taking to mitigate that risk. Data and expressions of regret alone are not good enough – now is a time for action.

The PDA urges all employers and Responsible Pharmacists to work with their employees including BAME and other at-risk groups to assess their risk and put in place all possible reasonable mitigations.

The PDA urges the government to follow through on its promise to fully investigate the issue of increased risks for BAME individuals. It is not enough to know that BAME individuals are at a higher risk; we must know why so that measures can be taken to protect these communities. The PDA wrote to the Ministers with Responsibility for Equality of all four UK nations on 27th May calling for an independent inquiry into why people from ethnic minorities are more at risk from dying of COVID-19 as well as guidance, particularly for BAME health and social care workers across the UK.

Read about our letters to the four UK governments raising our concerns here.

The PHE report can be found here.

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