(Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has urged the NHS and government to include pharmacy in national plans to keep BAME healthcare workers safe as they are affected more seriously by Covid-19, compared to the white population.

“We fully recognise the impact on our profession and urge the NHS and government to include pharmacy in national plans to keep BAME healthcare workers safe,” Ravi Sharma, RPS Director for England, said on Thursday (7).

The pharmacy sector has a high representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers, comprising 43 per cent of the workforce.

The RPS statement follows a report published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday that Covid-19 deaths are four times more likely among black adults than those of white ethnicity.

The ONS has noted that black males are 4.2 times more likely to die from a Covid-19-related death and black females are 4.3 times more likely than white ethnicity males and females.

“People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and mixed ethnicities also had statistically significant raised risk of death involving Covid-19 compared with those of white ethnicity,” the report found.

Sharma added: “A disproportionate number of BAME staff work on the frontline of the NHS and have lost their lives to coronavirus, including amongst the pharmacy profession. This is devastating and is a very real reminder of the inequalities around race that still pervade our healthcare system and wider society.”

Scientists cautioned that there were vast holes in their knowledge and cite striking differences in the death rates based on age, sex and ethnicity.

Genetics, they say, might hold many clues that could help eventually reveal a path to medicines or a vaccine that could treat the disease.

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