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Coronavirus BAME Deaths Report Was Not Led by Black Health Expert Despite Claims by Public Health England

Coronavirus BAME Deaths Report Was Not Led by Black Health Expert Despite Claims by Public Health England

According to the BBC, a report by Public Health England (PBE), which would investigate the impact of the coronavirus on black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, was not led by black health expert, Professor Kevin Fenton, despite PHE’s claims that he would lead the investigation.

Instead, the report appears to have been written by Professor John Newton, with Fenton acting as a “contributor”.

This is the latest incident in around the investigation which has been marred with criticisms and confusion. At its onset, the inquiry was criticised for the alleged involvement of former Labour MP, Trevor Phillips. Meanwhile, as recently as last week, Muslim groups said that Downing Street exerted its influence to omit certain parts about the report relating to structural racism.

The review confirmed that high number of people of BAME died of the coronavirus

The official review to investigate the health impacts of COVID-19 on different demographics was launched early in May. Its main goal was to identify how ethnicity, gender and other factors could be impacted by COVID-19. The launched was prompted especially after BAME deaths were found to be disproportionately high among COVID-19 sufferers.

It its launch, PHE said that the work on investigating the impact on ethnic groups would be led by Professor Kevin Fenton, who would conduct a review alongside a number of experts including [former UK equality watchdog chief, Trevor Phillips. Although Phillips’ appointment, at the time, was criticised on account of allegations around Islamophobic comments he made, Fenton’s involvement was praised as “diversity in leadership”.

However, according to the BBC, the final report, published earlier this week, was led by Professor John Newton, with Fenton involved as a “contributor” according to the PHE.

Patrick Vernon, a social justice campaigner who has recently lost a family member to coronavirus, said that “trust had been lost” as a result of Government “u-turn” about Professor Fenton’s involvement and added that the black community was feeling misled as a result.

“The government has said ‘black lives matter’ but valuable time has been wasted,” Vernon said, demanding an independent inquiry.

Allegations were made about the report’s omission of at least 1,000 accounts

Allegations have been made about the report’s inclusion the accounts of at least 1,000 organisations and individuals. Activist groups that although the PHE said that at least 1,000 people were interviewed for the segment on the impacts of the virus on the BAME portions of the populace, these sections were alleged to have been removed under pressure from Downing Street on grounds that they highlighted the deep structural racism.

Claims made by the Health Service Journal seem to support these allegations. The Journal said that before the publication, a section detailing responses from third parties, many of whom highlighted structural racism linked to BAME deaths, were removed by the Government.

The Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Harun Khan, has called for an immediate explanation, criticising the PHE for its failure to discuss the “overwhelming role structural racism and inequality has on mortality rates and to disregard the evidence compiled by community organisations.” Dr Zubaida Haque, the interim director of the Runnymede Trust, similarly criticised that there is nothing about this matter in the document at all.

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