The AIRE Centre have contributed to the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Anti-Discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI) investigation into national responses for combatting the COVID-19 crisis. The analysis focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on specific groups and communities in the UK, namely the disparate impact on race and ethnicity, migrants and persons in prisons. The AIRE Centre contribution considers the evidence on unequal health and economic impacts, and the government and public response to the crisis.

Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that ethnic inequalities in the UK are manifesting into disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 crisis. This is experienced through increased exposure to infection and health risks, and exposure to loss of income. The hospital fatalities of black Africans were 3.7 times as high as the white British majority, and 2.9 times as high for Pakistanis. Likewise, the ONS found that men working in the ‘lowest skilled’ elementary occupations, such as security guards, face the highest rate of death involving the virus. Men and women working in social care similarly face a statistically significant higher mortality rate for COVID-19 deaths. Simultaneously, the crisis has witnessed a spike in hate crimes and racism across the UK.

The UK government launched a review by Public Health England to analyse how different factors, including ethnicity, deprivation, age, gender and obesity can impact people’s health outcomes from COVID-19. The government’s response to the virus has itself manifested disproportionately. Persons in immigration control and prisons are subject to restrictive lockdown measures, likely to remain in effect longer than those for the general public. Recent figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council indicate that fines stemming from violations of the lockdown regulations are disproportionately affecting BAME people in the UK.

Beyond the PHE review, the UK government has not taken any specialised measures to address the differential impact. Several NHS trusts have issued independent guidance on addressing the risks faced by BAME personnel, including priority testing. Additionally, lobbying by individuals and organisations have contributed significantly to public discourse on the COVID-19 crisis, manifesting in several policy changes such as abolishing the NHS surcharge for health and care workers.

Read the AIRE Centre's contribution in full HERE