In its latest report, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has updated the ethnic contrasts in deaths involving COVID-19 highlighting how patterns in rates of deaths involving COVID-19 between ethnic groups has changed over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
Their new report covers the period from January 10, 2022 to February 16, 2022, when Omicron was the main variant, and presents mortality rates by ethnic group for this period. It also comments on mortality rates for each wave since the start of the pandemic.
ONS said that during this latest period, rates of deaths involving COVID-19 were higher for many ethnic minority groups compared to the White British group and highest for the Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups.
Since the start of the period when Omicron was the main variant, males in the Bangladeshi ethnic group had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19, this rate being 2.7 times higher than males in the White British ethnic group, 2.2 times higher than Pakistani males, and 1.6 times higher than Black Caribbean males.
Females in the Pakistani ethnic group had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19. This rate was 2.5 times higher than females in the White British ethnic group, 1.9 times higher than in Bangladeshi females, and 1.4 times higher than females in the Mixed ethnic group.
Fourth Wave Pattern 'Similar to Third and Second Waves'
They explained how this pattern is similar to those patterns "observed in the pandemic’s third wave before Omicron became the main variant", where they reported the rate of death involving COVID-19 was higher for all ethnic minority groups - except Chinese people, men from the Mixed ethnic group and women from the White other ethnic group. The risk was highest for the Bangladeshi ethnic group, this being 4.4 and 5.2 times greater than for the White British ethnic group for males and females, respectively.
Between December 8, 2020 - the start of the vaccination programme - and the approximate end of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (June 12, 2021) people from all ethnic minority groups - except the Chinese group and women in the White other ethnic group - had higher rates of death involving COVID-19 compared with the White British population, the ONS said.
During this period, the rate of death involving COVID-19 was highest for the Bangladeshi ethnic group, being 5.0 times greater than the White British group for males, and 4.5 times greater for females, followed by the Pakistani (3.1 for males, 2.6 for females) and Black African (2.4 for males, 1.7 for females) ethnic groups.
A spokesperson from the ONS said: "Since Omicron became the main variant, rates of deaths involving COVID-19 were highest for the Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups. This is similar to patterns observed in the third wave of the pandemic - before Omicron became the main variant - and the second wave, but not the first wave, when rates were highest for Black African males and females."
Pattern of All-cause Mortality Rates Shifted
For the latest report, estimates of COVID-19 mortality rates by ethnic group were made using linked data from the ONS Public Health Data Asset. The study population comprised 40.2 million people - aged 10 to 100 years - enumerated at the 2011 Census and living in either private households or communal establishments in England at the start of COVID-19 pandemic on January 24, 2020.
All-cause mortality rates for the entire period since the pandemic began from January 24, 2020 to February 16, 2022 were higher for Bangladeshi males and females, Black Caribbean males and Pakistani males compared to the White British group.
This differs from pre-pandemic all-cause mortality rates, where rates were highest for the White British and Mixed ethnic groups compared to all other ethnic minority groups.
ONS pointed out that although the low number of deaths in this new short study period since Omicron became the main variant "makes it difficult to assess the statistical significance of comparisons between groups, several main patterns are similar to those observed earlier in the third wave of the pandemic before Omicron became the main variant".
However, they emphasised that future analyses over longer time periods with more data should allow for "more precise estimates".
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