Ethnic minority COVID-19 patients 'a decade younger than white ones'

BAME Covid-19 patients in London are 11 years YOUNGER than white people with the disease, study finds

  • A study at King’s College Hospital in London found average ages were 63 and 74
  • Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients have disproportionate death rates
  • This is thought to be because they are more likely to have poor general health
  • Scientists said good news is recovery rates appear same across ethnicities 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Black, Asian and ethnic minority COVID-19 patients in London are 11 years younger on average than their white counterparts, a study has found. 

Researchers at King’s College London found that BAME patients were aged 63, on average, compared to 74 for white patients.

The finding is the latest in a string of research showing that non-white people are being killed by the coronavirus at a faster rate than white people.

Scientists think this is because ethnic minority people in Britain have considerably higher rates of health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

A younger average age shows that these factors – and potentially others – are putting black and Asian people at higher risk of becoming severely ill and dying young. 

The older average found among white people suggests that age remains their greatest risk.

The research found, however, that ethnicity did not seem to affect likelihood of death when other factors were taken into account: a black person and a white person of the same age and health status would have equal odds of survival.

It comes after a study submitted to SAGE and published this week revealed the same finding and suggested people of all ethnicities had the same chance of being hospitalised or dying when their health conditions were taken into account. 

Asian and black people in England make up a larger proportion of COVID-19 deaths than they represent in the population, showing that they are dying at a higher rate than white or mixed race people, for whom the trend is reversed

Professor Ajay Shah, a doctor at King’s College Hospital and professor of cardiology for the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Our study shows that people of black and minority ethnic backgrounds have a disproportionately high rate of requiring hospitalisation for COVID-19.

‘People of BAME background are on average much younger than our white patients and have health inequalities such as higher levels of diabetes and high blood pressure.’

The study led by Professor Shah studied 1,200 coronavirus patients admitted to King’s College Hospital NHS Trust between March 1 and May 12.

They found 368 of the patients were from BAME communities, most of whom were black. 

This was a disproportionate 30.7 per cent of the population – according to the 2011 Census just 14 per cent of people in England were non-white.

The findings revealed BAME patients had higher rates of high blood pressure (63.3 per cent) and diabetes (48.6 per cent) while white patients were more likely to have heart-related issues (21.2 per cent).

It is these long-term illnesses – now dubbed ‘underlying conditions’ by the NHS – which are thought to be putting ethnic minority people at higher risk from COVID-19.

A study by researchers at the universities of Edinburgh and Liverpool, presented to SAGE, came to the same conclusion.

That study, of around 23,000 patients in the UK, found that ‘comorbidities’, and in particular diabetes, appeared to account for the difference in risk. 

It suggested that BAME people were more likely to be admitted to intensive care but, when the illnesses were taken into account, the difference disappeared.

One expert, the University of Oxford’s Duncan Young, said the statistics did not actually show a higher rate of admission for BAME people, adding: ‘The take-home message is that BAME patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are no more likely to end up in ICU nor are they more likely to die.’ 

Professor Shah’s data showed 288 patients died after being infected with coronavirus, including 151 white and 68 BAME patients.   

Among the 168 patients in critical care, 17.5 per cent were from BAME groups, compared with 10 per cent who were white.

According to the researchers, the findings indicate ethnicity does not have a bearing on final patient outcome – death or admission to critical care.

Professor Shah added: ‘Some good news is that the chances of recovery in those admitted appear to be similar for different ethnicities.

‘We are now working to identify why the rates of hospital admission are so much higher in BAME groups and why much younger patients are affected.’


Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are no more likely to die from coronavirus than white people, a study given to government scientists has found.  

Research presented to Number 10’s SAGE panel found there was no greater risk of death for Brits of BAME backgrounds when all factors were taken into account.

It showed that ‘comorbidities’ – long-term health problems – appeared to account for higher rates of hospitalisation and intensive care among ethnic minority people.

Risk among BAME communities has been a sensitive topic during Britain’s outbreak and even given rise to calls for extra protection for non-white NHS staff. 

Statistics show BAME people in Britain are dying of COVID-19 at disproportionate rates, but scientists have struggled to explain why.

The research – done by scientists from the universities of Edinburgh and Liverpool – was one of around a dozen secret papers published last night by the government.  

It did, however, claim BAME people did seem to be more likely to end up in intensive care in the first place. 

The SAGE paper was met with scepticism, however, with one intensive care doctor saying the data it contained did not line up with what the scientists claimed.

Oxford University’s Professor Duncan Young said: ‘I’m not sure why they thought black patients were more at risk of ICU care.

‘The take-home message is that BAME patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are no more likely to end up in ICU nor are they more likely to die.’

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