LONDON: Data on COVID-19 death rates in England has revealed that Muslims are by far the worst-affected religious group, with death rates twice as high as among Christians, and nearly three times higher than atheists.
Data from the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that, up to the end of February this year, 4,191 Muslims had been killed by the virus.
Muslim men had a death rate of 966.9 per 100,000 people, while that of women was about 519.1 per 100,000.
Muslims were followed by Hindus — 605.2 among men and 346.5 for women — Sikhs — 573.6 and 345.7 — Jews — 512.9 and 295.4 — and Christians — 401.9 and 249.6.
Atheists, as a group, were the least affected, experiencing 336.6 deaths per 100,000 among men, and 218.2 among women.
The ONS report did not examine the cause of the disparity between religious groups.
However, after factoring in other risk indicators such as age, wealth and location, it said: “After adjustments, the Hindu population and Muslim men were disproportionately affected throughout the pandemic.
“For other religious groups, the excess risk relative to the Christian group was only observed in the first wave (Jewish and Buddhist men) or second wave (Sikh men and women and Muslim women).”
Experts have suggested that ethnic minorities are more likely to be on low incomes and working in public-facing jobs that increase their exposure to the virus.
When the ONS stripped out the effects of people’s health and lifestyles, the death risk supposedly linked to faith dropped significantly.
Previous research has shown that South Asians are the worst affected ethnic group.
“For some religious groups, there is considerable overlap with ethnic background. This means that it is difficult to separate the observed association between COVID-19 mortality risk and religion from the risk associated with ethnic background,” said the ONS report.
A separate study by Queen Mary University in London, published in January, found that black, Asian and ethnic minority people were up to 50 percent more likely than white people to die of COVID-19 in hospital. It also found that the likelihood of needing significant medical intervention through a ventilator was 54 percent higher among Asian patients — many of whom are Muslim — than for their white compatriots.