'Scandalous' inequalities between BAME and white patients laid bare by Covid

A documentary has exposed the ‘shameful’ health inequalities in the UK exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

David Harewood’s ‘Why is Covid Killing People of Colour?’, which airs tonight at 9pm, explores why those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are three times more likely to die of Covid-19 than white people.

The Birmingham-born actor meets doctors, scientists and bereaved families to delve into how systemic racism and deprivation has played a direct part in the disproportionate toll the pandemic has had on people of colour.

The Homeland star says during the BBC One programme: ‘As a 55-year-old black man, I am three times more likely to die of Covid-19 than a white man my age.

‘But Covid-19 is just one part of a scandalous pattern of health inequality in Britain.’

At the age of 23, the actor had a psychotic breakdown – a condition he later discovered was far more likely to affect black patients than white.

When the news broke that people of colour were dying in disproportionate numbers from Covid-19, he set out to discover the connection ‘between race and health’.

After learning that 95% of doctors who have died from coronavirus are from BAME backgrounds, he says: ‘I think it’s shameful that the NHS is reliant on the work of ethnic minorities but many of them are the employees who feel the least protected.’

The Supergirl actor explores the theory that a possible deficiency in Vitamin D among black people could be linked to the high death rate, but he learns that it may be only a small part of a complex list of factors.

He finds poor housing and obesity – exacerbated by deprivation – are more reliable indicators, while examining the higher risk factors vital key workers face.

Mr Harewood is also ‘shocked’ to learn that black women are five times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than their white counterparts.

The documentary also explores how a ‘fear of poor treatment’ and a mistrust of institutional power are factors in why the vaccination take-up is lower among BAME communities.

David Harewood’s Why is Covid Killing People of Colour? airs tonight at 9pm on BBC One and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

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