Fatalities among South Asian ethnic group twice as likely to involve Covid-19

Deaths among the South Asian ethnic group in Scotland were almost twice as likely to involve Covid-19 than those involving white people, according to new analysis.

National Records of Scotland (NRS) data shows that the odds ratio that a South Asian person’s death involved the virus was 1.9 higher than a white person, for fatalities between March 12 and June 14.

The data accounts for age, sex, area-level deprivation and whether someone lived in an urban or rural area,

NRS said it does not have sufficient evidence to say deaths among people in the Chinese ethnic group are more likely to involve Covid-19, although the data also produced a higher odds ratio for them.

As of July 5, the overall coronavirus death toll for Scotland stands at 4,173 – with 17 more deaths recorded in the week to Sunday, 18 down on the previous week.

Commenting on the ethnicity analysis, NRS said: “The results show that over the course of the pandemic to date, Covid-19 was a relatively more common cause of death for people in the South Asian ethnic group compared to people in the white ethnic group.

“It is important to note that this analysis does not say that relatively more people across Scotland in the South Asian ethnic group have died from Covid-19, but rather that if a person in the South Asian ethnic group died during the pandemic, it is more likely to be Covid-19 related than is the case for those in the white ethnic group.”

The South Asian group includes people of Bangladeshi, Bangladeshi Scottish or Bangladeshi British, Indian, Indian Scottish or Indian British, Pakistani, Pakistani Scottish or Pakistani British ethnicity.

Across Scotland from June 29 to July 5, there were 40 fewer deaths from all causes registered compared with the average number for this time of year, the second week in a row the total number of fatalities registered has been lower than the average.

Deaths involving Covid-19 accounted for 2% of all deaths registered in the week to July 5, down from a peak in week 17 when Covid-19 deaths accounted for 36% of all deaths.

Less than a quarter (24%) of deaths in the week to July 5 were in care homes, down from 46% the previous week; while 71% were in hospitals, up from 46% the week before; and 6% were at home or in non-institutional settings, down from 9% the week before.

HEALTH Coronavirus Scotland
(PA Graphics)

The NRS figures are published weekly and account for all fatalities registered in Scotland when Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate.

They differ from the lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths announced daily by the Scottish Government using Health Protection Scotland (HPS) figures because they include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19.

Pete Whitehouse, NRS director of statistical services, said: “Understanding the impact of how the virus differs by ethnic group is vitally important, however, due to the low number of completed records for deaths involving Covid-19 in other minority ethnic groups, it is not possible to produce statistics for these groups.”

Announcing the latest HPS figures at the daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a total of 2,490 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by one from 2,489 on Tuesday.

Ms Sturgeon also said 18,309 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by seven from 18,302 the previous day.

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