Episode 10: Why are BAME people at higher risk from Covid-19?

From the early days of COVID-19, it became increasingly clear that there were inequalities at play in the risks posed by the virus.

It was very apparent that older people and those with pre-existing health conditions were at higher risk than the young and healthy, but patterns in the UK also started to suggest race and ethnicity were factors.

Public Health England recently published a review which formally confirmed the risk of dying among those diagnosed with COVID-19 is higher substantially higher – by as much as 10-50% – for those in BAME groups than white British people. The highest diagnosis rates of COVID-19 were also found to be in people from Black ethnic groups.

So how do we find out what is driving this inequality in risk?

To help answer this question, I was joined for this episode by medical sociologists Dr Catherine Dodds, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy in Bristol’s School for Policy Studies, and Dr Saffron Karlsen, Senior Lecturer in Social Research in our School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies.

During the conversation, we touch upon the unfortunate fact that these health inequalities are not unique to COVID. Indeed, we see them in chronic disease across the UK and elsewhere.

Catherine, Saffron and their colleagues are working with civic colleagues and charities to look at specific local health inequalities, the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on different ethnic communities, and how these might be addressed. It’s this kind of partnership research that will be vital for eliminating such inequalities. I’m very grateful for their work in our communities, and for their contribution to this series.

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