Time to talk about Covid 19 and ethnic minorities…

A Face protection

There has been a quite a bit said about the fact ethnic minorities are more likely to catch and die of Covid19. The UK office of national statistics recently released a study which was quite shocking and hard to read.  Its a harsh reminder this virus was never a equalizer and as BBC newsnight said, shows the widening divisions.

t discovered that after taking into account age, measures of self-reported health and disability and other socio-demographic characteristics, black people were still almost twice as likely as white people to die a Covid-19-related death.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani males were 1.8 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males, after other pre-existing factors had been accounted for, and females from those ethnic groups were 1.6 times more likely to die from the virus than their white counterparts.

Personally I am taking a lot of sustainable steps to stay safe. I say sustainable because unlike some people who think we are going to revert back to the old normal, I know this isn’t going to happen. Without going into too much depth about PPE, contact tracing and an actual vaccine. If you want that, its worth listening to the Manchester futurists podcast which is going up in the next few days.

I’m washing my hands with liquid soap pretty much all the times, not touching my face (I know its really really hard but not impossible and I have managed it but don’t have long hair and have a deep routed thing about dirty hands) and I’m disinfecting everything I have touched and brought back into the house including my headphones, smartphone, pebble watch, keys, etc… However I am not using alcohol hand sanitizer, unless essential because it makes my hands so bloody dry I hate it!

Even before the recent theories about Vitamin D, I have been taking Vit D as its generally good practice for darker skinned people living in northern hemispheres.

I’m very conscious I am at higher risk being a black male, having a survived a bleed on the brain, asthmatic and all with high blood pressure. But I am however very fortunate to have a career which means I can work from home while living in a city centre where I can go out and get exercise and food. I’m not socio-economic disadvantaged thats something which I have going for myself. I have been getting Tesco delivery again (maybe once every 4-6 weeks again). Been avoiding the large supermarkets and going to local high street shops, Booths and M&S food market (This is certainly not true of a lot of people!). I do pop into Aldi but am always aware people are much less likely to social distance unfortunately. Especially around the fruit and veg isle.

There was a decision made not to wear a mask, when the one I ordered for the holiday to South Korea and Japan never came (according to Amazon its still on its way – 4 months later). Me and my partner decided we didn’t want to be the westerners not wearing a mask, when we still felt we could go. But for me personally I decided there was more risk in having a mask than not when out and about in Manchester. I expect there will be places in the future where I will have to wear face protection/mask to enter, and thats fine (maybe my mask might actually arrive) but till then taking the mask on and off is just much more risk than not touching my face at all. I’m also very conscious about not coughing, sneezing, etc in and around people.

Whats happening is no joke and clearly points to the horrible inequality. I’m very fortunate to be born in a country which (at least currently) has a national health care system.

But there are clear problems/differences and the people with the power to change the fate of millions are doing little about it! Some would say it could be to the benefit to certain governments even?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at cubicgarden@mas.to, cubicgarden@twit.social and cubicgarden@blacktwitter.io

2 thoughts on “Time to talk about Covid 19 and ethnic minorities…

  1. Ian,

    Is it OK that i comment about this? As an ex-public schoolboy from England who detests being asked for his colour (“W-White British”) by government forms I’m not sure if I’m not doing some form of “mansplaining” if I comment about this.

    As a total maths geek, married to an Johns Hopkins alumni qualified epidemiologist, I find aspects of the CV19 epidemic quite fascinating. Also, as gay man I’m also a survivor of the HIV epidemic – somehow I’m HIV negative. So I do have a long-standing interest in the maths of this.

    But the question about Bame infections and deaths seems to be more about socio-epidemiology.

    I started out being interested in why TfL bus drivers were dying at twice the rate of the population of London in general. And given that these people were of working age, they shouldn’t have been any deaths at all.

    Of course, the intersection of Bame and TfL bus drivers is high: TfL has always directly recruited from the Bame population.

    So, looking at these deaths, my research uncovered these possible reasons:

    1. Bame bus drivers were being infected by bus passengers, who were healthcare workers who had been infected In hospitals and care homes;

    2. Bame bus drivers were being infected at homes because of a cultural conventions that put them at risk. This might be religious reasons (Hasidic jews, Evangelical churches, Mosques) or practical (multi-generational households) . Another reason might be poor communications from the NHS to those with poor English skills.

    3. Bame bus drivers are directly affected by air pollution. By sitting all day in exhaust fumes, bus drivers and other workers were extra susceptible to the virus if they got it. This is a political matter as the air quality in our cities is awful. However, this means the poor bus drivers don’t need PPE, they got sick over the last decade of exposure.

    4. Bus drivers were a unexpected CV19 distribution system. By coming Into contact with thousands of people, they were active spreaders of the virus, and then took It home to their families. This would mean that TfL had failed In their duty of care.

    So, to conclude, it’s not being a Bame person per-say that makes you more likely to be infected, but the “passive racism” of the British state.

    Look after yourself, but this Is more a political issue rather than a personal one.

    Good luck.

    1. Oh Brian so carefully put… but thanks for the honesty.

      I do think you make good points, it won’t be the first time passive/casual racism killed BAME people.

      Stay safe

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