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Quarter of people dead in England due to COVID-19 were diabetics

Prasun Sonwalkar | HT


The first breakdown of underlying health conditions among the victims of coronavirus in England shows that a quarter of 22,332 people who passed away since March 31 were diabetic, reinforcing initial data that the disease makes recovery more difficult.

The data from NHS England released on Thursday shows that people with dementia or lung problems are also among those most at risk of dying after contracting the virus. Health officials consider people of Indian and Asian origin in the UK particularly prone to diabetes.

Of the 22,332 people who died in England hospitals between March 31 and May 12, 5,873 (26%) suffered from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the figures reveal, adding that the number of dead categorised as ‘Indian’ rose to 665.

Partha Kar, NHS England’s special adviser on diabetes, said: “It is clear that people with diabetes are more at risk of dying from Covid-19. More detailed analysis is currently underway to understand the link between the two, although initial findings indicate that the threat in people under 40 continues to be very low.”

The NHS England data complements that of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released last week, showing “significantly higher” risk of death from the virus among Indian and other non-white communities than the white community. The ONS said Indian and other non-white males are 4.2 times more likely to die from a Covid-19-related death and non-white females are 4.3 times more likely than white ethnicity males and females. The UK’s Indian-origin population is estimated to number 1.5 million.

The ONS said: “People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and mixed ethnicities also had a statistically significant raised risk of death involving Covid-19 compared with those of White ethnicity”.

According to Kamlesh Khunti, a medical expert at the University of Leicester, the reasons Indian and other non-white people figure more in the statistics, despite accounting for only 14 per cent of the UK population, include many coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, working in public-facing occupations, holding different cultural beliefs and behaviours or being at high risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

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