People with Black ethnicity in the UK up to 50% higher risk of death from COVID-19

People with Black ethnicity had up to 50% higher risk of death from COVID-19 when compared to White British.

People with Black ethnicity had up to 50% higher risk of death from COVID-19 when compared to White British.

Death rates from COVID-19 are higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups when compared to White ethnic groups, and people from Black ethnic groups were most likely to be diagnosed.

The disparity in COVID-19 mortality between ethnic groups is the opposite of that seen in previous years where the mortality rates were lower in Asian and Black ethnic groups than White ethnic groups.

The descriptive review of data on disparities in the risk and outcomes from COVID19 was carried out by Public Health England.

The relationship between ethnicity and health is complex. So while the analyses did not account for the effect of occupation, comorbidities or obesity, which are important factors because they are associated with the risk of acquiring COVID-19, the risk of dying, or both, the disparities are likely to be the result of a combination of factors.

Firstly, people of BAME communities are likely to be at increased risk of acquiring the infection. This is because BAME people are more likely to live in urban areas1, in overcrowded households2, in deprived areas3, and have jobs that expose them to higher risk4. People of BAME groups are also more likely than people of White British ethnicity to be born abroad5, which means they may face additional barriers (cultural, language, etc.) in accessing health and other related public services.

Secondly, people of BAME communities are also likely to be at increased risk of poorer outcomes once they acquire the infection. For example, some co-morbidities which increase the risk of poorer outcomes from COVID-19 are more common among certain ethnic groups. People of Black Caribbean and Black African ethnicity have higher rates of hypertension compared with other ethnic groups6. Data from the National Diabetes Audit suggests that type II diabetes prevalence is higher in people from BAME communities 7.


  1. Regional ethnic diversity – Cabinet Office (CO).
  2. Overcrowded households by ethnicity – Cabinet Office (CO).
  3. People living in deprived neighbourhoods – Cabinet Office (CO).
  4. Which occupations have the highest potential exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19)? – Office for National Statistics (ONS).
  5. People born outside the UK – Cabinet Office (CO).
  6. Chaturvedi N, McKeigue PM, Marmot MG. Resting and ambulatory blood pressure differences in Afro-Caribbeans and Europeans. 2003, Hypertension, Vol. 22(1).
  7. National Diabetes Audit Report 1 – Care Processes and Treatment Targets 2018-19, Short Report – NHS Digital.