UK to probe racial bias in medical devices after COVID toll

The British government is investigating whether built-in racial bias in some medical devices led to Black and Asian people getting sick and dying disproportionately from COVID-19

LONDON — The British government is investigating whether built-in racial bias in some medical devices led to Black and Asian people getting sick and dying disproportionately from COVID-19.

Javid said one issue was research showing that pulse oximeters, which measure blood oxygen levels through the skin, work less well on darker skin. He called it a “systemic” worldwide issue.

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

He said he hoped to work with his U.S. counterpart, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and officials in other countries, to eliminate bias in the health system.

He said a U.K. review, which will also look at gender bias, will report its findings by the end of January.

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

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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