The UK's leading doctors' union on Friday called on the government to ensure its review into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities must be informed by the real-time data collection for the real effect.
The British Medical Association (BMA) welcomed Downing Street's announcement this week that the Public Health England will be leading an investigation into the factors behind the higher death rates and more severe symptoms of the novel coronavirus among Indian and other ethnic minority communities in the country.
However, the exact nature of the review is yet to be laid out, with calls for it to be independent as well as with some definitive parameters. "We are pleased that the government has heeded the BMA's call for this review.
However, if the review is to have any meaningful impact, it needs to be informed with real-time data to understand why and how this deadly virus can have such a tragic disproportionate toll on our BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities and healthcare workers," said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA Council Chair.
Nagpaul had pushed for the review after an "overwhelming majority" of those who have died from coronavirus came from the BAME communities.
"This must include daily updates on ethnicity, circumstance and all protected characteristics of all patients in hospital as well as levels of illness in the community, which is not currently recorded.
"The government must take every necessary step to address this devastating disparity and protect all sectors of the population equally and now," he said.
The BMA wants the government to issue a directive to every hospital telling them to record the ethnicity of patients who are admitted and succumb to COVID-19 immediately.
Among some of the measures to be put in place immediately until a detailed understanding of the threats faced by BAME communities is established, it also recommends that those at greatest risk, including older and retired doctors, are kept away from working in potentially infectious settings.