UK investigates 'racial prejudice' in medical devices

The British government is investigating whether “racial prejudice” introduced into some medical devices has caused blacks and Asians to disproportionately fall ill and die from Covid-19.

British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday that the pandemic has highlighted disparities in access to health care between race and gender.

Quoted by AP Agency, the official said that a third of intensive care admissions in Britain at the height of the pandemic were people of black and ethnic minority backgrounds, more than double their share of the population.

Britain’s Bureau of Statistics found that in the first year of the pandemic, through March 2021, blacks and South Asians in the UK had higher death rates than their white compatriots, even after factors such as occupation and living conditions. underlying health have been taken into account.

Sajid Javid said one of the issues is research showing that pulse oximeters, which measure blood oxygen levels through the skin, work less well on darker skin, considering it a “systemic” worldwide problem.

“I’m not saying this was deliberate, I think it’s just a systemic problem, potentially, with medical devices and could go even further than with medical textbooks, for example,” Javid told Sky News.

He told the Sunday Times that “the possibility that prejudice – even inadvertent – could lead to a worse health outcome is totally unacceptable” and said he hoped to work with his US counterpart, Xavier Becerra, and officials in other countries, to eliminate prejudice in the health system.

She added that an investigation in the UK, which will also look at gender bias, will present its results by the end of January.

Britain has recorded more than 143,000 deaths from coronaviruses, the highest total in Europe after Russia.

Europe is currently the only part of the world where Covid-19 cases are on the rise, and many countries are reintroducing restrictions to counteract this increase.

Austria will enter a national blockade on Monday, and violent protests erupted in the Netherlands this weekend after the government announced it would “restrict access of unvaccinated people to some places”.

In the UK, however, cases are virtually stable and deaths and hospitalizations are slowly decreasing.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week he saw no need to switch to “Plan B,” under which people would be forced to wear masks indoors and advised to work from home.

Britain has had higher infection rates than neighboring countries for several months, and some scientists say that puts the country in a better position now.

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said the UK had been dealing with the highly transmissible delta strain of the virus for longer than its European neighbors and perhaps because of that, “it has a slightly higher immunity “.

Great Britain has also started booster vaccinations for all people aged 40 and over.

Oxford University professor of medicine John Bell said he did not believe the UK would face another Christmas blockade, as it did in 2020.

However, the researcher admitted that “for anyone planning a skiing holiday in Austria, things may not go so well”.

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