Coronavirus ethnicity data must be published now, says Sadiq Khan | World news

The mayor of London has called on the government to immediately collect and publish data on the ethnicity of coronavirus victims, describing it as fundamental in fighting the disease.

Sadiq Khan’s comments came as the latest figures showed patients from ethnic minority backgrounds are overrepresented in critical care units and among NHS staff who have died.

A Guardian analysis found that of 53 NHS staff known to have died in the pandemic so far, 68% were from BAME backgrounds. They include 22 nurses, two porters, a radiology support worker, a patient discharge planner and a hospital bus driver.

In an opinion piece for the Guardian, Khan urges the government to act promptly in studying the demographics of those affected by Covid-19, so there is greater understanding of why BAME communities are being disproportionately affected.

“At the moment, we know the age and sex of everyone who contracts and tragically dies from the coronavirus, but we still have little additional reliable information, including about their ethnicity,” he writes.

“If the information was collected and published in real time, it would help bring the true scale of the problem to light and provide more evidence about how to protect communities from the virus.”

He adds: “Promises to provide this data in the future is not good enough – we need it to be collected and published right now. There simply is no good reason to wait.”

Data on patients with confirmed Covid-19 from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) suggested ethnic minorities were overrepresented compared with the general population.

Figures released on Friday showed that of 4,873 patients with Covid-19 in critical care, 1,681 were from the BAME community, accounting for 34.5% of cases.

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Of those, 65.5% patients were white, 11.2% black, 14.9% were Asian and 6.9% were described as other.

This is despite black and Asian people making up 10.8% of the UK population, according to the 2011 census.

On Thursday, Downing Street announced a review into why people from BAME backgrounds appear to be disproportionately affected by coronavirus, which will be led by the NHS and Public Health England. But no information was provided about what – if any – data would be shared or the timeframe.

The launch of an inquiry came after the British Medical Association (BMA)’s council chairman, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, gave an interview with the Guardian last week calling for an official investigation. He said: “At face value, it seems hard to see how this can be random.”

The shadow equalities secretary, Marsha de Cordova, welcomed the review into virus’s “disturbing impact” on BAME communities but said it was “not yet clear whether it will be independent, when it will be concluded and who will be leading it”.

She added: “The government must ensure the review is robust and looks into the underlying structural economic and social inequalities that have affected BAME communities in this crisis.

“It must also urgently record data broken down by ethnicity on the number of people who have died as a result of Covid-19.

“The devastating effect of Covid-19 on BAME communities cannot be overstated. This review must be the first step in ensuring that all communities are equally protected from this virus.”

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