COVID-19 and Inequality: How Do Pandemics Disproportionately Impact the Most Vulnerable Sectors of Our Population?

Photo by Jérémy Stenuit on Unsplash

Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities

Viruses do not discriminate, but our social system does. Recent statistics have confirmed that in the United Kingdom, Black, Asian, and other ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by the virus. Additionally, data from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) shows that a third of the COVID-19 patients who were admitted to critical care units in the UK are BAME,¹ even though this group makes up only 14.5% of the English population.² These groups of people also have lower survival rates in comparison to their counterparts.

The East Asian Community

Panic began after the first wave of news broadcasted that COVID-19 had started to spread outside of China. Suddenly, prejudiced individuals distanced themselves from East Asian people and thousands of reports of attacks on Asian people began to surface. Even certain political figures began to refer to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.”

Refugees

During this pandemic, political leaders have used the health crisis as a means of justifying anti-migrant ideologies. But with or without COVID-19, conflict in areas of political unrest has persisted, which can have dire consequences for the individuals living there. Hence, the integration and support for all refugees and migrants shouldn’t be impeded. Migrants and refugees are forced to choose between leaving their home during the pandemic or staying in a country where their life is at risk every day.

Immigrants

The economic support which some governments have provided throughout this pandemic has reached many citizens, but what about those that the system considers “illegal”?

The Homeless

Picture this: overcrowded shelters with scarce nutritional and medical resources, low standards of hygiene, and a lack of masks and hand sanitizers. In essence, a COVID-19 outbreak hotspot waiting to erupt.

Domestic Abuse

When lockdown was announced, staying home for work and taking classes in bed seemed idyllic. Nonetheless, being home is paradoxically not the safest place for millions of individuals, the majority of whom are either women, children or LGBTQ+. For these groups, going outside daily is their refuge from mental and physical abuse back at home. So, while lockdown remains an essential part of our fight against this pandemic, it is a severe threat for these individuals.

LGBTQ+ Community

A topic initially neglected in the media is the impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ+ community. Nevertheless, it is vital to recognize that pre-existing discrimination against these individuals already establishes barriers for them to gain access to essential services.

  • The Silent Solution: With abusers going through their victim’s phone to track their calls, contacting help is not as easy as it sounds. The Silent Solution has been launched in order to make contact with authorities as easy as possible during the lockdown.
Source: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/womens-aid-the-iopc-and-the-npcc-launch-make-yourself-heard-campaign-this-national-stalking-awareness-week/

Mental Health

Amid a pandemic that primarily concerns our physical health, we were all quick to neglect the importance of maintaining our mental health. With schools being closed and healthcare services becoming scarce in many locations, there is a critical shortage of support systems for those who have pre-existing mental health conditions and those who are more susceptible to developing them.

Source: https://www.statista.com/chart/21878/impact-of-coronavirus-pandemic-on-mental-health/

Final Thoughts

The analyses depicted here are in no way put in place to prioritize one struggle over another. They’re simply highlighting that some groups are indeed more susceptible to the effects of the pandemic than others and that society should be putting measures into place to ensure these groups are supported.

References:

¹ https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/bame-covid-19-deaths-what-do-we-know-rapid-data-evidence-review/
² https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/uk-population-by-ethnicity/national-and-regional-populations/population-of-england-and-wales/latest
³ https://www.bbc.com/news/health-53651954
https://www.financialexpress.com/world-news/historic-racism-to-blame-for-higher-covid-19-risk-to-minorities-uk-report/1993856/
https://time.com/5858649/racism-coronavirus/
https://www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2020/6/5efb5c754/enhanced-support-syria-refugees-vital-amid-covid-19-pandemic-unhcr-chief.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQtdkHvhSHA
https://endhomelessness.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-paper_clean-636pm.pdf
https://www.cmaj.ca/content/192/26/E716
¹⁰ https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-52433520
¹¹ https://ec.europa.eu/commission/commissioners/2019-2024/johansson/announcements/opening-statement-commissioner-johansson-schengen-migration-and-asylum-policy-and-eu-security_en
¹² https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbtq-rights/news/2018/01/18/445130/discrimination-prevents-lgbtq-people-accessing-health-care/
¹³ https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/LGBT/LGBTIpeople.pdf
¹⁴ https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-52668174
¹⁵ https://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS-Black-Respondents-Report.pdf
¹⁶ https://time.com/5853325/black-trans-women-killed-riah-milton-dominique-remmie-fells-trump/
¹⁷ https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/05/1063882
¹⁸ https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/04/15/2016460/0/en/CCSA-Finds-Canadians-Under-54-Drinking-More-While-at-Home-Due-to-COVID-19-Pandemic.html

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