Findings reveal who is most vulnerable to COVID-19
New provisional data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed male security guards, chefs and taxi drivers are among those most likely to die from COVID-19.
The stats, calculated by ONS and broken down by occupation, are based on coronavirus related deaths in England and Wales registered up to 20 April.
The highest rate of fatalities recorded was among male security guards, 45.7 deaths per 100,000. Among men, other occupations found to have high death rates from coronavirus, include taxi drivers and chauffeurs (36.4 deaths per 100,000), chefs (35.9 deaths per 100,000) as well as bus and coach drivers (26.4 deaths per 100,000)1.
Dr David Poots, senior occupational health physician at BHSF, believes the figures are a stark reminder that individuals working outside health and social care must be provided with protective personal equipment.
“There has been a lot of focus on health services and social care, where workers are putting themselves in harm’s way. The ONS figures remind us that workers in other occupations are also exposed and need help to protect themselves.
“It’s understandable that taxi and bus drivers, for instance, are more exposed to outdoor conditions than an office worker and the risk of them getting infected is higher. For example, the more people there are on a bus, the risk of contamination being potentially higher.
“No one should have to go out to earn to stay afloat if it puts their health at risk. There are more important things in life than work, and personal health should always come first.
“In occupations at highest risk, there needs to be access to protective equipment, testing and tracing, as there is for those working in healthcare. It’s positive to see Transport for London are taking steps to protect their frontline staff, including bus drivers, and are issuing face masks to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.”
Alarming stats from ONS has also found black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die from coronavirus than white ethnicity males and females.
The analysis found men and women from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities have an increased risk, between 30-80%, of falling victim to the virus. For Bangladeshi and Pakistani men the risk is 1.8 times higher, and for women in these communities it’s 1.6 times higher2.
The number of deaths from the virus in people with BAME backgrounds has already been highlighted by the government as concerning. Over 70 public figures have called for a full independent public inquiry into deaths from coronavirus among people from ethnic minority backgrounds3.
Dr Poots feels there could be many reasons why people from ethnic minorities are being hit harder by coronavirus. However, he also believes everyone’s risk from COVID-19 is unique to them.
“Perhaps black and Asian people as a group are more vulnerable because they are genetically predisposed to diseases such as diabetes. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t be complacent and simply accept this.
“There’s evidence from around the world that people with some health conditions are more likely to experience severe complications from COVID-19. For example, in the UK, heart and circulatory disease and their risk factors are the most common pre-existing conditions for people dying from COVID-19. Anyone with a heart condition is considered to be at high risk4.
“We know that people from certain ethnic minority groups are at greater risk of heart and circulatory disease than others. Therefore, it’s logical that the disproportionate number of coronavirus related deaths in BAME groups could be in part due to these underlying conditions.”