The Marmot review: 10 Years On was published in February just as the world, and indeed the UK, was beginning to recognise the severity of coronavirus. The report set out how, over the past 10 years the health inequalities gap has widened, and those who experience greater inequality also spend more time in ill health than they did ten years ago. Health is very closely linked to the "conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age and inequities in power, money and resources". The pandemic exists against a backdrop of multiple inequalities in each of these areas, including access to healthy food, high quality education, employment and safe and healthy housing.
For those from a Black, Asian, and minority ethnic background, discrimination leads to systemic barriers to conditions required for a better and healthier life.
For those from a Black, Asian, and minority ethnic background, discrimination leads to systemic barriers to conditions required for a better and healthier life. Reports have considered that genetic factors may play a role in the higher rate of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic deaths, but inequality and poverty are important elements that may make people more vulnerable to COVID-19. For example, 26% of Bangladeshi British households, and 21% of Black African households, have more people than bedrooms, which would make it difficult to isolate someone with COVID-19 symptoms, and Black, Asian, and minority ethnic households are more likely to be intergenerational making it harder for older or vulnerable people to shield. Additionally, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people are more likely to live in more deprived areas – for example Brent has a Black, Asian, and minority ethnic population of 65% and at the height of the pandemic had the highest overall age-standardised COVID-19 mortality rate.
Now more than ever is the time to prioritise health inequalities on the national agenda. A healthier population is one that is more resistant to future health issues, including pandemics. The direct and indirect effects of coronavirus contributed to the untimely deaths of many people, and justifiable anger at the disadvantage people face has been a catalyst for a greater focus on health inequalities in this field.