n investigation into why black and ethnic minority residents in east London have been harder hit by covid was launched today.
Researchers at Barts Health NHS Trust and Queen Mary, University of London will also address the issue of vaccine reluctance and how best to build trust to encourage take-up of the jabs.
The Amplifying Lives project will aim to understand the reasons behind the finding earlier this week that black and Asian patients were more likely to die with covid than white patients, according to analysis of mortality rates at the five Barts hospitals involved in the first wave.
The new study, funded by Barts Charity, will use interviews and questionnaires to get an insight into the lives of BAME residents before and during the pandemic.
Dr Vanessa Apea, one of the researchers who was born in East London herself, says: “Poorer health outcomes in BAME communities are not new, but have been revealed more starkly than ever by Covid-19, and must be urgently addressed. Authentic community engagement and co-creation of solutions are key to achieving health equity.”
Compared with the general population, those of Black African heritage are 3.24 times more likely to die and Bangladeshi populations are 2.41 times more likely to die.
Nurul Islam, 38, from Forest Gate contracted the virus last February. He said: “I’ve never felt anything like it. One night I woke up suffocating. So many things came into my mind, I was scared and panicking. But what worried me most was my children – our 14-month-old daughter also contracted Covid-19 and was unwell.”
The researchers, led by Dr Apea and Professor Chloe Orkin, National Institute of Health Research BME clinical co-leads for Covid-19, are planning further studies into the treatment and outcomes of 3,000 BAME patients treated for covid at Barts Health, cross-referenced with local authority data from Tower Hamlets and Newham to explore factors like socioeconomic status, household density, and geographic health factors such as pollution.
A total of 1,357 patients treated at Barts Health have died with covid, while 8,009 patients have recovered.
Barts Charity’s chief executive Fiona Miller Smith said: “As a charity dedicated to supporting the health of East Londoners, we are no strangers to the stark effects of health inequalities. And providing funding to better understand and ultimately overcome these inequalities is really important for us.
“As we are by no means out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID-19, we are rightly proud to be backing this very valuable contribution.”