LONDON: British Pakistanis in the United Kingdom have a higher risk of contracting and dying of the new coronavirus than the rest of the white British population, a comprehensive new study revealed as at least seven doctors of Pakistani origin are confirmed to have died.
An in-depth analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies showed that the death rate among British Pakistanis and British Black Africans is 2.5 times that of the white population due to Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The report came as several doctors, nurses and medical assistants from the British Pakistani community lost their lives to the virus.
Jointly authored by Professor Lucinda Platt of the London School of Economics and research economist Ross Warwick, the analysis of data accumulated by Public Health England said that the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis are not uniform across ethnic groups, and aggregating all minorities together misses important differences.
According to some of its key findings, “per-capita Covid-19 hospital deaths are highest among the Black Caribbean population and three times those of the White British majority. Some minority groups, including Pakistanis and Black Africans, have seen similar numbers of hospital deaths per capita to the population average, while Bangladeshi fatalities are lower”.
It added that once one takes into account age and geography, most minority groups “should” have fewer deaths per capita than the white British majority.
Study shows several healthcare workers of Pakistani origin have already died from virus
Most minorities are also younger on average than the population as a whole, which should make them less vulnerable. Yet, the confirmed cases and fatalities reflect a different story.
“Black Africans and Pakistanis would be expected to have fewer fatalities per capita than White British but at present they are comparable,” it said.
It also found that the potential for buffering incomes within the household depends on partners’ employment rates, which are much lower for Pakistani and Bangladeshi women.
The most startling representation of these findings are depicted in a graph which shows how hospital fatalities of white British people, with a population of 42.3 million, are considerably lower as compared to those of Pakistanis, who have a population of 1.2 million in the UK.
In an email to Dawn, Professor Platt said “Pakistanis in England and Wales have hospital deaths that are 2.7 times what we would expect if their age and where they live were the only relevant factors. At the same time, Pakistanis in England and Wales also have elevated chances of suffering from the economic consequences of the lockdown, with Pakistani men of working age are nearly three times as likely as working-age White British men to work in one of the sectors that was shut down by the lockdown (34pc compared to 12pc), and Pakistani men of working age are particularly likely to be self-employed, around 27pc, which is 70pc more than the rate for White British men”.
Prof Platt said it was important to recognise the ways that some groups were channelled disproportionately into particular occupational sectors “whether in care work or in taxi driving, and to consider how that happens and why these sectors often are those that are more marginal in terms of pay or security”.
Earlier in the week, the NHS in a letter sent to hospital trusts said staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds would be given different roles away from the frontline under plans to reduce their disproportionately high death rate from Covid-19.
The most recent fatalities from the Pakistani community include 50-year-old plastic surgeon Dr Furqan Ali Siddiqui, a father of six who had been on a ventilator for four weeks before he died. He was working on the frontline and treating virus patients at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. He had recently moved to Manchester and was nearing the end of his NHS training. His wife, also a doctor, and children live in Pakistan.
Another British Pakistani consultant doctor, Dr Nasir Khan, passed away on April 29 after a week-long battle with Covid-19. Dr Khan was a locum doctor working at Dewsbury and District Hospital in West Yorkshire, which he joined in November. An online fundraising page set up by friends of the doctor, to help Dr Khan’s wife and three children, has raised nearly £44,000 of its £50,000 target.
Mamoona Rana, a 46-year-old trainee psychiatrist from Buckhurst hill, Essex, also succumbed to the virus in the last week of April.
Healthcare assistant Khalid Jamil, 57, passed away on April 14 after a three-day fight with Covid-19 at his workplace, Watford General Hospital. The father of two from St Albans had been with West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust since March 2006. Mr Jamil came to the UK from Pakistan, where he was a qualified doctor, before joining the hospital trust.
On April 6, senior GP Dr Syed Zishan Haider, 79, passed away from coronavirus in Barking and Dagenham, where he was a senior partner at Valence Medical Centre. Previously, he worked as a senior homeopathic physician at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine for over 30 years.
On April 3, 36-year-old NHS nurse Areema Nasreen died after being infected with coronavirus and fighting for her life in intensive care. She had been placed on a ventilator at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands where she worked in the acute medical unit. The mother of three, believed to have had no underlying health issues, received her nursing qualifications in January 2019.
On March 25, family GP Dr Habib Zaidi was killed by the virus in a death thought to be of the first doctor in the UK. The 76-year-old, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, died in intensive care just 24 hours after being taken ill.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2020