Oxford University data visualisation spin-out, Zegami, is offering its services for free to help discover why members of the BAME community are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than people from white ethnic backgrounds, suffering more serious health implications from it and an increased threat of dying from the virus.
Zegami says that by using its technology to analyse the millions of data points collected on the rate of infection of COVID-19 by different ethnic groups and the medical outcome of these, will help answer this question.
The data visualisation platform is calling on the government to review urgently what data it is collecting on the COVID-19 crisis by ethnic groups to ensure it is capturing all relevant information.
WHY IT MATTERS
A review by Public Health England found that the highest age standardised diagnosis rates of COVID-19 per 100,000 population were in people of black ethnic groups and the lowest were in people of white ethnic groups.
An analysis of survival among confirmed COVID-19 cases showed that, after accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation and region, people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of death when compared to people of white British ethnicity.
People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other black ethnicity had between 10 and 50% higher risk of death when compared to white British people.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
In June, it was shown that the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) run by Palantir on the NHS COVID-19 data store would not be categorised by ethnicity, despite BAME people disproportionately affected by the virus.
Since these findings, several explanations have been put forward for why the BAME community has been hit harder by the virus. These include variations in cardiovascular disease risk by ethnic groups; higher rates of vitamin D deficiencies and socio-economic, and behavioural factors.
BAME communities also have a higher proportion of people employed in key worker roles increasing their exposure to the virus as well as poorer access to healthcare services, which can make them less inclined to seek medical help.
ON THE RECORD
Roger Noble, CEO and founder of Zegami said: “All the evidence shows that members of the BAME community are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than the white community, and they also face a higher risk of suffering serious health implications or even death. As a matter of urgency, we need to review how coronavirus data by ethnicity is being collected, and more specifically what information is being gathered. If we are confident that we are collecting everything needed, technology and data visualisation can speed up the process of finding an answer to the question of why the BAME community is so more adversely affected by this virus.”