Health workers with a black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) background are twice as likely to have coronavirus, a study suggests.
Researchers cleaned 10,000 NHS staff for the infection and tested their blood for antibodies, indicating if they ever had the disease.
About 14.7 percent of BAME employees tested positive for the virus, up to 17 percent when only black and Asian workers were included.
For comparison, only 8.7 percent of their white counterparts at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust delivered positive results.
Trust bosses said “special steps” had been taken to “make all BAME employees working at OUH feel safe and supported” based on the results.
The study also found that carriers and cleaners were twice as likely to get coronavirus than staff in intensive care units.
It follows a mountain of evidence that shows that BAME Britons are more likely to contract and die of it than whites.
Scientists have yet to establish exactly why minority groups are at increased risk of infection.
But they believe it may be partly explained by the fact that minority groups are more likely to live in deprived neighborhoods and use public transport, but experts say this can’t explain the whole story, and an increased percentage of vitamin D deficiency among minorities is being investigated.
To date, at least 300 health workers have died of the coronavirus and people from black and ethnic minority groups have been disproportionately affected. Shown are some BAME caregivers who have fallen victim to the disease
The Oxford study, which has not yet been published in a journal and has been studied by other scientists, tested a total of 10,610 employees between April 23 and June 8.
The scientists combined data from both PCR swabs and blood test programs for antibodies.
The results showed that 11 percent of all staff had had coronavirus at one point, while the figure rose to 21 percent for staff who worked in Covid-19 departments.
WHY ARE SO MANY CORONAVIRUS VICTIMS FROM BAME BACKGROUNDS?
Experts say it is unlikely that there is a single reason why ethnic minorities are more likely to become seriously ill or die from the virus.
People with an ethnic minority background make up a large part of the NHS workforce.
As a result, they are more often exposed to larger amounts of the virus because they come into contact with critically ill patients.
Having a high viral load – the number of particles in the virus that someone is first infected with – gives the bug a ‘jump start,’ scientists say.
Members of ethnic minority communities are twice as likely to experience poverty and are often hardest hit by chronic diseases.
Those living in poverty smoke and drink more alcohol and are more likely to be obese, all of which increase the risk of chronic health problems.
Patients with pre-existing health problems struggle to fight COVID-19 before causing deadly complications such as pneumonia.
People with a poorer background also use public transport more often and live in crowded houses, which increases their chance of catching and spreading the virus.
They may also be more at risk because of their profession, according to Shaomeng Jia, a professor of economics at Alabama State University’s College of Business Administration.
Those who work in retail, grocery, and construction – who can’t work from home – were still mingling and risking infection even as the outbreak peaked, she said.
It also found a difference in infection risk in different hospital wards.
Those who worked in busy acute wards had the highest proportion of positive tests (27.4 percent), followed by porters and cleaners (18 percent).
Intensive care (9.9 percent) and emergency care (12.1 percent) had a lower infection rate.
Terry Roberts, chief people officer at OUH, said the trust has taken “special steps” to support and protect BAME personnel.
They have been added to the ‘at risk’ group and many are asked if they want to be moved to Covid-free departments.
Mr. Roberts added, “We also set up listening sessions to ensure that BAME employees could raise concerns.”
OUH said, based on the findings, an infection prevention and control plan has been established to minimize the spread of Covid-19 among staff and patients.
Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Medical Officer of OUH, said, “We have made recommendations to all staff at our four hospital sites, including porter and cleaning colleagues.
This included personnel who continued to use Level 1 PPE for all patient contacts, and strengthening PPE-focused training and safety suits; ensure strict social distance and wear mask for patients and staff; continue to triage patients based on symptoms of potential Covid, including atypical presentations in the elderly; reviewing cleaning procedures; and maximizing the rapid diagnostics and laboratory capacity of OUH. ‘
It is after an Oxford study that pregnant women from black, Asian and ethnic minority groups (BAME) are up to eight times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 than white women.
NHS England now recommends that BAME expectant mothers with mild Covid symptoms be hospitalized soon due to their increased risk of becoming seriously ill.
The move follows a study from Oxford University earlier this month looking at 427 pregnant women admitted with the disease between March 1 and April 14, when the virus grew exponentially in the UK.
More than half of the patients had a BAME background, despite only a quarter of births in England and Wales being responsible.
The study found that expectant black mothers were eight times more likely to be admitted than white pregnant women, and the risk for Asians had quadrupled that of whites.
Pregnant women from black, Asian and ethnic minority groups (BAME) are up to eight times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 than white women, a study of 427 expectant mothers affected by the virus
NHS England now tells doctors to ‘lower the threshold’ for hospital admission because of the increased risk.
It also encourages midwives to provide tailored support and advice to pregnant women with a BAME background and to discuss vitamin D supplementation.
The Oxford study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), follows a series of damning research that shows that BAME groups are disproportionately affected by Covid.
Scientists think this is because minority groups in the UK have significantly higher health problems, increasing the risk of a serious attack of Covid-19, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Connections with higher rates of vitamin D deficiencies are also under investigation by heads of health in the UK.
Dark-skinned people have to spend more time in the sunlight to get the same amount of vitamin D as a lighter-skinned person, making BAME people living in Britain more likely to have a vitamin deficiency.
Currently, the NHS recommends that British take 10 micrograms of the ‘sunshine’ nutrient daily during shutting down ‘to keep your bones and muscles healthy’.
But it says on its website that “ there is currently not enough evidence to support ” claims that the immune-boosting nutrient reduces the risk of coronavirus.