Low vaccine take-up linked to greater risk of death among some ethnic groups

It is the first time take-up has been linked in this way with estimates of mortality rates.

Ian Jones
Wednesday 26 January 2022 12:14
Covid memorial wall in Westminster, London (Victoria Jones/PA)
Covid memorial wall in Westminster, London (Victoria Jones/PA)

Lower vaccination take-up among some ethnic groups contributes to an increased risk of Covid-19 death, particularly for people from black African and Caribbean backgrounds, new research suggests.

Most ethnic minority groups have continued to experience greater rates of death involving Covid-19 during the third wave of the virus compared with people identifying as white British.

These differences have been attributed mostly to social and demographic factors, such as geography, type of residence and health.

But levels of vaccination coverage are now contributing to the elevated risk of death observed in some groups, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It is the first time vaccination take-up has been linked in this way with estimates of mortality rates.

(PA Graphics)

Between June 13 and December 1 2021, the risk of death involving Covid-19 for black African males in England was 1.4 times greater than that for white British males, after adjusting for age, demographic factors and certain pre-existing conditions.

But after also adjusting for vaccination status – to reflect if someone has received a first, second or third dose – this difference was found to have been eliminated.

A similar pattern was evident for black Caribbean males, with the risk 1.7 times greater before adjusting for vaccination status, but no excess risk after.

For black African and Caribbean females, the risk of Covid-19 death before adjusting for vaccination was estimated at 1.8 and 2.1 times greater than white British females respectively – but again, this excess risk disappeared after accounting for vaccine take-up.

The figures suggest that, once adjusted for vaccination status, there is “no evidence” that the risk of death involving Covid-19 is greater for people from these ethnic groups than for the white British ethnic group, the ONS said.

People identifying as black African and Caribbean have the lowest vaccination rates among people over the age of 50, however.

Differences in vaccination coverage between these two groups and the white British group “explain a large part of the excess risk”, the ONS added.

Overall the ONS found that, during the third wave of the virus, the fully-adjusted risk of Covid-19 mortality – including vaccination status – is similar to the white British group for all ethnic groups, except the Bangladeshi group (2.2 times greater for males and 2.1 times greater for females) and for Pakistani men (1.2 times greater).

Vahe Nafilyan, senior statistician in the ONS health and life events division, said: “Today’s analysis shows that since the vaccination programme began, the risk of death from Covid-19 has continued to be higher in most ethnic minority groups than in the white British ethnic group.

“As already highlighted in our analyses of earlier periods, these differences in mortality are largely explained by socio-demographic and economic factors and health.

“For the first time, we show that the lower vaccination coverage in some ethnic groups also contributes to the elevated risk of Covid-19 death, particularly in the black African and black Caribbean groups.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in