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UK’s COVID-19 inquiry should address racism, says campaign group


Officials should investigate why Black Britons and Britons from ethnic minorities were overrepresented in pandemic deaths and cases, the group says.

The United Kingdom should indicate in all inquiries into the government’s handling of the pandemic how structural racism has affected the death toll, a campaign group says.

During the global health crisis, people from minority ethnic backgrounds died much faster than white Britons. Civil rights groups have said racism played a role.

The COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group said in an open letter Tuesday to Baroness Heather Hallett, who is leading the inquiry, that new data released last week confirmed that blacks and ethnic minorities are “over-represented” in pandemic deaths.

According to government figures, around 220,000 people in the UK have died with COVID-19 on their death certificates – the seventh highest number in the world.

“The most recent data shows that almost all minority ethnic groups died disproportionately from COVID-19. For Bangladeshi men, the death rate was 3.1 times higher than white British men, followed by Pakistani men (2.3 times) and Black Caribbean men (1.8 times),” the group’s letter read.

“COVID-19 is not just a health crisis; it is also a social and economic crisis.”

The study came about after heavy criticism that the government was not prepared to tackle the spread of the virus.

Signatories to the letter include the Runnymede Trust, Action for Race Equality and Asylum Matters.

The group said they were “disheartened” by a listening exercise of the study, after learning it had been outsourced to public relations firms with close ties to the government.

They have called for the inquiry to examine structural racism in every part of the process, bring in an expert witness, rethink the listening exercise and ensure that refugee and migrant rights groups are represented as participants.

“Until we dismantle the factors that caused the pandemic to be racialized in its impact, we cannot mitigate a similar outcome of future crisis responses,” the letter said.

“This should be a central questioning point for the COVID research, with impacted communities at the center.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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