Muslim males ‘have highest Covid-19 mortality rates’ among religious groups

Figures also suggest that Jewish males are at twice the risk compared with Christian males.

A hospital's Covid ambulance entrance
A hospital's Covid ambulance entrance

Muslim males have the highest rates of death involving Covid-19 among all religious groups, with a risk of dying that is 2.5 times higher than males who have no religion, new analysis suggests.

The age-adjusted mortality rate for Muslim males in England and Wales during the first few months of the coronavirus outbreak was 198.9 deaths per 100,000 people, and for females 98.2 deaths per 100,000.

By contrast, those identifying with “no religion” – based on responses in the 2011 Census – had the lowest rate of death involving Covid-19, with 80.7 deaths per 100,000 males and 47.9 deaths per 100,000 females.

The figures have been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and cover deaths that occurred in England and Wales between March 2 and May 15.

Covid-19 mortality rates, by religious group
(PA Graphics)

They suggest the risk of dying from Covid-19 is higher among those identifying as Muslims, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh than other religious groups.

Those who identified as Jewish at the time of the 2011 Census showed an increased risk of a death involving Covid-19 compared with the Christian population.

Jewish males had a mortality rate of 187.9 deaths per 100,000, which was roughly twice the risk of Christian males (92.6 deaths per 100,000).

For Jewish females, the rate was 94.3 deaths per 100,000, compared with 54.6 deaths per 100,000 for Christian females.

Responding to the findings, ONS head of life events Nick Stripe said: “For the most part the elevated risk of certain religious groups is explained by geographical, socio-economic and demographic factors and increased risks associated with ethnicity.

“However, after adjusting for the above, Jewish males are at twice the risk of Christian males, and Jewish women are also at higher risk. Additional data and analyses are required to understand this excess risk.”

Religion is not recorded on somebody’s death certificate, so the ONS used information from the 2011 Census to determine religious group and other demographic factors.

The analysis was restricted to those aged nine and over, because children under nine would not have been born at the time of the last Census.

HEALTH Coronavirus Religion
(PA graphic)

The rate for Hindu males was found to be 154.8 deaths per 100,000 people, while for Sikh males it was 128.6.

For Hindu females the rate was 93.3, and for Sikh females it was 69.3.

Separate figures published by the ONS confirm previous findings that the mortality rate for deaths involving Covid-19 among some ethnic groups is higher than the rate for people of a white ethnic background.

After adjusting for age, the rate was highest among black males (255.7 deaths per 100,000 people) and lowest among white males (87.0 deaths per 100,000).

For females, the pattern was similar, with the highest rates among those of black ethnic background (119.8 deaths per 100,000) and lowest among those of white ethnic background (52.0 per 100,000).

After further adjusting for other factors such as deprivation and health, the ONS found that people of black ethnic background still had a mortality rate involving Covid-19 which was 2.0 times greater for males and 1.4 times greater for females compared with those of white ethnic background.

As with the separate figures for religion, this data covers deaths that occurred in England and Wales between March 2 and May 15.

Males of Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian ethnic background also had a significantly higher risk of death involving Covid-19 than white males, the ONS found.

For females in Bangladeshi or Pakistani, Indian, Chinese and mixed ethnic groups, the risk of death involving Covid-19 was equivalent to white females.

Mr Stripe said: “Analysis continues to show that people from a black ethnic background are at a greater risk of death involving Covid-19 than all other ethnic groups.

“Adjusting for socio-economic factors and geographical location partly explains the increased risk, but there remains twice the risk for black males and around one-and-a-half times for black females. Significant differences also remain for Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian men.

“The ONS will continue to research this unexplained increased risk of death, examining the impact of other health conditions.”

Additional figures released by the ONS found that the Covid-19 mortality rate for disabled people in England and Wales, based on the 2011 Census and adjusted for age and other demographic factors, was 1.9 times higher for males and 2.4 times higher for females compared with non-disabled people.

When looking just at people aged nine to 64, the age-adjusted mortality rate for disabled males was 6.5 times greater than those not disabled, while for females it was 11.3 times.

Responding to the figures, James Taylor, executive director of strategy, impact and social change at disability equality charity Scope, said: “The vastly higher mortality rate of disabled people is a damning result of disabled people being forgotten about and not adequately protected during this crisis.

“This inequality cannot be allowed to continue. Making sure disabled people do not bear the brunt of the pandemic needs to be a top priority for the Government.”

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