Corona is color blind?
Posted on April 26th, 2020

Dr Sarath Obeysekera 

In the UK, people from BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds are disproportionately affected by Coronavirus. For instance, the first 10 doctors named as having died from Covid-19 in the UK were all from BAME communities. Nobody can give a good enough reason for this yet and the UK government has already launched an investigation/inquiry to find out why.

Attached below are two newspaper articles on the subject, one from Guardian (left wing) and another from Telegraph (right wing) for your info.

Is there a similar trend/ finding in Canada, US and Why are people from BAME groups dying disproportionately of Covid-19?

Last month the Institute of Health Equity-produced a report reviewing Marmot’s Fair Society, Healthy Lives. The report highlighted two key findings; a growth in the health gap between wealthy and deprived areas and an increase in the number of people who will spend more of their lives in poor health.

The review also found that the health of a population was not entirely based on the strength, resilience, or functionality of the healthcare system but rather on the conditions in which people are born, grow, work and eventually age. Marmot coined this as the social determinants of health and the implications of this are evident more than ever when you look at the case prevalence, mortality rate and hospitalisation statistics by demographic in relation to Covid-19.

A recent report by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre has found that the patients from black and ethnic minority backgrounds have shown more severe complications of the disease. The study looked at 2,249 patients in the critical care units participating in the Case Mix Programme. Individuals who identified as non-white makeup around 13 percent of the UK population but accounted for a third of the patients that were admitted to critical care. covid-19

Hannah Devlin April 22, 2020

One explanation for why people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are dying in disproportionately high numbers is demography. The virus hit London first and hit it hardest. But even when you take these regional differences into account there is a mismatch. In particular, if you take into account that ethnic minorities are generally younger – particularly important for Covid-19 where 90% of deaths are in people over 60 – the ethnic differences become even more stark.

Co-morbidities could certainly play a role. The black population, where the discrepancy appears to be greatest, is particularly afflicted with hypertension. Diabetes is three-fold higher in this ethnic group. Both of those conditions will increase your risk of death once you’ve got Covid. The added problem is that these conditions occur at a younger age in people of black descent. However, in mitigation against that, certainly older people of black African descent don’t smoke as much, so have less respiratory disease, have lower rates of cancers and coronary disease. 

With Asian populations, the story is a bit different, but again there is a four-fold excess in diabetes and blood pressure rises higher with age in South Asians compared to Europeans.

Genetics sounds like an easy get-out clause, but it isn’t. Ethnicity is a complex socio- cultural construct, it’s not a biology construct. There’s no gene for being Asian. There’s no gene for being black. People of ethnic group membership can change over time and with age, it’s not an immutable thing and it very poorly maps on to any biology you can think of. People have looked to see if there’s a genetic explanation for these ethnic differences in chronic disease and have been unable to find one, despite having looked quite hard in large numbers. So there’s no evidence that genes explain the excess risk of Covid susceptibility. It’s important to put a nail in that one because it feels as if we can abdicate any responsibility for sorting this out and this

Ethnic minorities are over-represented in high-risk occupations, including health workers, in the transport sector and essential shop work. Clearly, there’s a huge amount of heterogeneity, but overall ethnic minorities are more likely to live in deprived, dense, over-crowded urban areas and are more likely to be disadvantaged. In some cases, household composition could play a role, particularly in Asian households where you have multi-generational households living together.

 So both through occupation and residential reasons, they’re less able to socially isolate effectively and much more likely to be exposed to high doses of the virus. There’s some suggestion that the greater the dose you’re exposed to the more likely the disease is to prove fatal. That’s perhaps one reason why even quite young healthcare workers are succumbing to the disease.

The evidence on ethnic differences in healthcare-seeking behavior is quite messy, and we need to remember that these are quite heterogeneous groups. For instance, people of black ancestry have been found to be less likely to consult for chronic diseases like diabetes, but that doesn’t mean to say that if it’s an acute condition they won’t come forward. One study of people accessing antiviral flu treatments in the flu pandemic of 2009 found that ethnic minorities were less likely to ask and less likely to collect these. But whether this was due to reluctance, differences in access to healthcare, the way the message was put across or racism – it is difficult to pick apart because the healthcare-seeking process is so complicated.

Ultimately, this is about health inequalities, about deprivation and affluence and how important socio-economic status is in determining health outcomes. This isn’t just an ethnicity story, it affects all of us. Britain has a long history of health inequalities. It’s critically important to understand and I’m relieved that the government is taking this seriously.

Prof Chaturvedi is director of the MRC Unit for Lifelong health 

Why are so many black and ethnic minority people dying from coronavirus?

 By Gabriella Swerling, Dominic

A review into why people from ethnic minorities are disturbingly” and disproportionately affected by coronavirus has been launched by the Government.In UK

The inquiry comes after weeks of pressure on ministers to launch an investigation into the issue. 50 BAME front-line health staff have now died of coronavirus.

Downing Street confirmed the NHS and Public Health England will lead the review of evidence concerning the impact on people black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

How many BAME people have died?

Despite only accounting for 13 per cent of the population in England and Wales, 44 per cent of all NHS doctors and 24 per cent of nurses are from a BAME background. Of the 82 front-line health and social care workers in England and Wales that have died because of Covid-19, 61 per cent of them were black or from an ethnic minority.

Among them was Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, a 53-year-old consultant who warned the Prime Minister about the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE) to support NHS staff during the pandemic.

In a Facebook post last month, he warned Boris Johnson to ensure urgently personal protective equipment for each and every NHS worker”.

Mr Chowdhury, who worked as a consultant urologist at Homerton Hospital in east London, said in his post: People appreciate us and salute us for our rewarding job which are very inspirational but I would like to say we have to protect ourselves and our families/kids in this global disaster/crisis by using appropriate PPE and remedies.”

Manjeet Singh Riyat, who was the United Kingdom’s first Sikh A&E consultant, died on April 20. Mr Riyat was described as “instrumental” in building emergency services in Derbyshire over the last two decades, and was widely respected across the NHS.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: Manjeet had spent most of his life helping others as an A&E consultant, from treating the sick to training junior doctors. Something very much in line with his faith principles of being a devout Sikh.

 This is a true tragedy, as another frontline NHS worker falls victim to this deadly virus. His death comes as a huge loss to the Derby & Burton hospital, wider NHS family and to the whole Sikh community.”

The limited data available and images of those who have passed away suggests Covid- 19 is disproportionally impacting on Sikhs and wider BAME communities.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association (BMA) council chair, welcomed the review into BAME deaths, but stressed it must be informed by real-time data to understand why the virus appears to be disproportionately affecting BAME communities and healthcare workers.

This must include daily updates on ethnicity, circumstance and all protected characteristics of all patients in hospital as well as levels of illness in the community which is not currently recorded,” Dr Nagpaul said.

The government must send a directive to every hospital telling them to record the ethnicity of patients who are admitted and succumb to COVID immediately.”

Why are there more BAME coronavirus patients?

Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients are shown by new data to face a disproportionately high risk of death from coronavirus. Of the 13,918 victims who tested positive in hospital up to April 17, 16.2 per cent of these were of BAME background. BAME communities make up around 13 per cent of the total population.

Last week, data on patients with confirmed Covid-19 from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) also suggested ethnic minorities are over- represented compared with the general population.

Around 7.5 per cent of the population were Asian and 3.3 per cent black in the 2011 UK census.

The first 10 doctors named as having died from Covid-19 in the UK were from BAME communities – a figure that the Labour Party described as “deeply disturbing”.

Some analysts have suggested that the burden of coronavirus falls on poorer communities, in which BAME people are over-represented.

Are BAME communities more vulnerable?

Marsha de Cordova, the shadow equalities secretary, called for the Government to “urgently investigate why BAME communities are more vulnerable to this virus”.

Her call came after the chairman of the BMA, Dr Nagpaul, said it could not be random that the first 10 doctors named as having died from the virus were all from BAME communities.

 Those doctors have ancestry in regions including Asia, the Middle East and

Africa. However, the BMA chair said that even allowing for the over-representation of BAME staff in the NHS the fact that they were all from ethnic minorities was extremely disturbing and worrying”.

England’s Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, said it was critical to find out which groups are most at risk. He said it remains unclear why some ethnic groups appear to be more vulnerable. “I’ve had discussions with scientists about this in terms of trying to tease this apart today,” he said.

What about BAME patients outside of the UK?

It is not just in the UK that the number of BAME people affected by coronavirus has caused alarm.

In the United States, there has been growing concern over the rising number of coronavirus deaths among African-American communities.

The latest data suggests that people who are black or Hispanic in the US are twice as likely to die from Covid-19.

In states reporting fatalities by race, 34 percent of American victims were black, according to research from John Hopkins University, and black Americans also represent


It is essential that Sri Lankan research organizations ponder into the fact that the rate of infection of high portion of a certain minority may be due to their life style 

One said that moor community attends the prayers and keep touching the floor by placing the temple on the ground and also place both unprotected hands on their face thus increasing the danger of getting infected ?

Dr Sarath Obeysekera 

Dr Sarath Obeysekera
CEO Walkers Colombo Shipyard
Sri Lanka

One Response to “Corona is color blind?”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    I have noted that the majority of these victims from the BAME community are Muslims. In Sri Lanka also the majority who got infected are Muslims even though they have not categorized on the basis of religion. Then countries like Cuba, Vietnam Cambodia, and Thailand have got a very small amount of infected people. From these observations, and considering their eating habits it can easily be concluded that these countries who consume more pork in their day to day eating habits are less likely to be infected by Coronavirus. Either as naturally occurring chemical or as anti-bacteria chemicals used in pig farms, pork has got some kind of anti-corona antidotes or immunity-enhancing chemicals.

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