New report calls for action on COVID testing for BAME communities

The Race Equality Foundation has published a briefing on COVID-19 and race equality with the New Policy Institute. The briefing examines the data behind Public Health England’s two recent reports.

Their analysis shows the risk of infection (confirmed by a test) for black and minority ethnic people to be 56% higher than White British for working-age and 69% higher for those aged 65 plus. The risk of death from COVID for black and minority ethnic people is 12% higher for working-age and 19% higher for age 65 plus than for White British people.

The briefing argues that there is sufficient data in the PHE report to show action to address higher risk faced by black and minority ethnic communities is needed now. A further inquiry is not an immediate priority.

A concerning issue uncovered was the low rate of testing among some particular groups. Pakistani and Bangladeshi men and women, as well as men of all ethnicities are underrepresented in tests. This urgently needs to be addressed as we move towards a “test and trace” system to contain the virus.

The Race Equality Foundation are asking for the NHS and PHE to work with trusted intermediaries and reach out to ensure opportunities for testing are taken-up, barriers to accessing health care are removed and appropriate support provided.  There must be a wider immediate policy response to support, protect and provide for those whose day-to-day lives simply leave them so much more exposed to infection in the first place. This has to be accompanied by action to address racial inequality over the longer term.

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