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Online dialogue event: Muslims, Jews and COVID-19

12 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed life in Britain, as we socially isolate to protect the lives of ourselves and others. We acted even before official Government guidance by cancelling our planned iftar on 17 May and we have since cancelled our Migration Stories event which was planned for 14 June.

Growing evidence indicates that COVID-19 is affecting Britain’s Muslims and Jews even more seriously than the rest of our country.

Accordingly, our former Co-Chair Jonny Wineberg contacted Co-Chair Mohammed Amin and suggested an online event using Zoom to discuss COVID-19 and what both communities should be doing.

This was held on Sunday 12 April, with 25 participants including our Co-Founder Afzal Khan CBE MP who is Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, someone from Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and also three Salford City Councillors including current Co-Chair Cllr Heather Fletcher.

  1. Amin started the event with a 19-minute presentation.
  2. Jonny then facilitated a discussion for about 70 minutes.
  3. Heather concluded the event and gave a vote of thanks to Jonny and Amin for organising it.

Amin’s presentation

He commenced with a short introduction about the speakers and the Forum, before looking at what we know about COVID-19’s impact on Muslims and Jews. You can watch it below.

Amin’s PowerPoint slides can be downloaded here.

In his presentation, Amin mentions some additional information, and that can be accessed below.

ICNARC Report

ICNARC is the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre. It has published at least two reports of detailed and up-to-date data on COVID-19 patients receiving intensive care, including comparisons with historic viral pneumonia data.

Download the full ICNARC report.

COVID-19 and age

During his presentation, Amin mentions the age distribution of serious COVID-19 cases, which is also graphed on page 6 of the ICNARC report. Amin had looked at the underlying data spreadsheet and prepared a slide, which was excluded from the final presentation for time reasons.

That data is reproduced below, showing percentages of cases.

 

Females %

Males %

Females %

Males %

Age

COVID-19

COVID-19

Viral pneumonia

Viral pneumonia

16-29

0.72

1.19

3.87

3.29

30-39

1.91

3.64

3.94

3.92

40-49

3.38

8.61

5.85

6.92

50-59

7.53

18.59

8.60

10.92

60-69

8.17

22.07

10.07

12.88

70-79

5.08

15.60

10.18

11.29

80+

0.75

2.76

3.51

4.77

Total

27.54

72.46

46.01

53.99

There are some striking implications. These are all intensive care patients who are seriously ill, not mild cases.

Subsequent research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies published 1 May 2020

Lower down on this page is research published by the IFS on 1 May 2020. This confirms the significant ethnic differences in COVID-19 death rates which Amin could see in his presentation, with much more detailed data.

Research on whether multigenerational households are a risk factor

Amin believes that multigenerational households in Muslim and Haredi communities are a risk factor because older people are more likely to get infected with the virus SARS-CoV-2 if they have young people living with them who may be little affected by the virus.

He mentions two scientific papers, neither of which has yet had peer review.

The first was Bayer, C and M Kuhn (2020), “Intergenerational ties and case fatality rates: A cross country analysis”, CEPR Discussion Paper no. 14519. This looks at case fatality rates and the relative occurrence of intergenerational households in different European countries, finding a correlation.

Such research faces many challenges, since different testing regimes can produce very different case fatality rates.

The second was Marianna Belloc, Paolo Buonanno, Francesco Drago, Roberto Galbiati, Paolo Pinotti “Cross-country correlation analysis for research on COVID-19”. This seeks to rebut the above paper’s conclusions. The authors point out that they ran the same correlation for different regions within Italy, and found a negative correlation!

Coronavirus Act 2020

Amin also mentioned this act as the basis for the Government’s emergency powers, and quotes from Schedule 20. The full Coronavirus Act 2020 is available on the Government website.

How the presentation was recorded

Zoom can record meetings. This facility was used to record the presentation. However, while the sound quality over the internet was adequate for the live presentation, it was lower than those listening to a recording deserve.

Fortunately, Amin had also made a local recording of his voice. He has combined that audio recording with his slides to make the video above.

Discussion facilitated by Jonny

The discussion was not recorded because we wanted to ensure that participants felt free to share their views without them being recorded and published for all time.

However as an experienced facilitator, Jonny used the Zoom chat facility both to pose questions for participants, and to capture their more important comments in his own words.

That text file has been tidied up and edited by Amin and we are making it available below.

Event publicity

We are grateful to Jonny for the event publicity poster. This event was supported by:

Poster used to promote COVID-19 event

Institute for Fiscal Studies research published 1 May 2020

Detailed research for the IFS Deaton Inequality Review has confirmed what Amin could see in the above ICNARC figures.

They ask the question "Are some ethnic groups more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others?" and come up with a clear answer, which is yes. The linked page contains their executive summary, and also enables you to download their full 27-page report.

We have reproduced below the key paragraphs from their executive summary.

Once you take account of age and geography, most minority groups ‘should’ have fewer deaths per capita than the white British majority. While many minority groups live disproportionately in areas such as London and Birmingham, which have more COVID-19 deaths, most minorities are also younger on average than the population as a whole, which should make them less vulnerable.

After accounting for the age, gender and geographic profiles of ethnic groups, inequalities in mortality relative to the white British majority are therefore more stark for most minority groups than they first appear. Black Africans and Pakistanis would be expected to have fewer fatalities per capita than white British but at present they are comparable.

After stripping out the role of age and geography, Bangladeshi hospital fatalities are twice those of the white British group, Pakistani deaths are 2.9 times as high and black African deaths 3.7 times as high. The Indian, black Caribbean and ‘other white’ ethnic groups also have excess fatalities, with the white Irish group the only one to have fewer fatalities than white British.

 

 

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Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester

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