Failure to consider dirty air as a factor in higher death toll among ethnic minorities wholly irresponsible, say critics
The failure to consider air pollution as a factor in the higher rates of coronavirus deaths among minority ethnic groups is “astonishing” and “wholly irresponsible”, according to critics of a Public Health England review.
The PHE report released on Tuesday confirmed the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people from ethnic minorities but did not mention air pollution. Minorities in the UK, US and elsewhere are known to generally experience higher levels of air pollution, and there is growing evidence around the world linking exposure to dirty air exposure to increased coronavirus infections and deaths.
Scientists said air pollution should “absolutely” be considered and that it could have a double effect, with long-term exposure weakening lungs and hearts and short-term exposure potentially making viral infection more likely. Before the pandemic, air pollution was estimated to cause 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK, about the same number as the official UK coronavirus death toll to date.