The UK government has denied British media reports that the publication of its review into how the coronavirus pandemic has affected BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities has been delayed because of protests in the United States over the death of George Floyd.
The report, analyzing how different factors -- including ethnicity, gender and obesity -- can impact on people’s health outcomes from Covid-19, had been due for publication by the end of May, according to Public Health England.
It was commissioned by England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty in April, amid fears that the coronavirus pandemic is "disproportionately" affecting black and ethnic minority communities.
"There are a number of reasons for this that have been posited, and it is right that we do thorough research swiftly so that we can better understand it and take action as required," Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said on April 18.
In response to CNN questions about why the report has been delayed, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said in a statement:
Ministers received initial findings yesterday [Monday]. They are being rapidly considered and a report will be published this week."
"It is not true to say this has been delayed due to global events," the spokesperson added.
UK opposition leader, Labour's Keir Starmer, on Tuesday called on the government to "stop the excuses" and "publish the review," in a post on Twitter.
“BAME communities have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. We need the findings of this review published and action taken now,” he said.
Labour's Shadow Secretary for Women and Equalities, Marsha De Cordova, urged the government to name a date for publication, saying "its findings could save lives."
"The government has already delayed the report's release from the end of May. BAME communities across the country need reassurance that this issue is being taken seriously, and not being kicked into the long grass," she said.
"It is unacceptable to delay the release of a report into the unequal suffering of the BAME community on the basis of global events that relate to the suffering of black communities around the world."
At the beginning of May, analysis by the London-based Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) found ethnic minorities in England and Wales were dying from coronavirus at far higher rates than their white peers.
The think tank found that after eliminating age and geography, people from black African backgrounds were 3.7 times as likely to die in hospital from the disease than their white British counterparts. Death rates for those from Pakistani backgrounds were 2.9 times higher than the white British group, while Bangladeshi fatalities were twice as high.
The IFS said the British study highlighted "stark inequalities" between different ethnic groups in England and Wales.
A University College London analysis of National Health Service data about patients with a positive Covid-19 test who died in hospitals in England from March 1 to April 21 found that the average risk of dying in hospital from the virus was around two to three times higher for BAME groups in England, when compared to the general population.