The U.K. government will make the recording of ethnicity on death certificates mandatory as part of an effort to tackle the unequal impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minority groups.
U.K. Minister for Equalities Kemi Badenoch said “part of the excess risk still remains unexplained,” as she updated MPs on recommendations from the government’s race disparity advisory group.
She also announced £25 million for a “community champion scheme,” which will help to improve the reach of important public health guidance. This includes translating messages into different languages and the promotion of vaccine trials, where BAME volunteers are still underrepresented. Badenoch is herself taking part in a vaccine trial to promote this area.
Public Health England (PHE) found in June that people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds were experiencing disproportionately higher mortality rates than those from a white background. Office for National Statistics data for the first wave of infections between March 3 and May 15, showed black men were 3.3 times more likely to die as a result of contracting COVID-19 than white men. Black women were 2.4 times more likely.
To remedy this, the government has partnered with the ONS and U.K. universities to commission research to improve understanding of the link between higher coronavirus deaths and ethnicity, including the impact of COVID-19 on refugee groups and the prevalence of the disease among BAME health workers.
Earlier this week, a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Runnymede Trust pointed out that the same is happening in the second wave of infections, and that measures must be taken to avoid repeating this.
Badenoch will update the House of Commons quarterly.