Jewish researchers have declared a mysterious and unknown “Jewish factor” to explain the disproportionately high number of Jewish deaths from Covid-19.
The warning came in a statement from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) this week following the release of analysis from the Office of National Statistics which looked at the impact of the coronavirus by religious group.
Religion is not recorded on death certificates, making analysis by religion “painstakingly slow”, but the ONS looked at 140,000 deaths between March and May and retrieved this information by linking death registrations to 2011 Census data.
It comes in the week that the Board of Deputies confirmed that 500 Jews in the UK had now died of coronavirus, compared to only 305 people in the entire State of Israel having died of Covid-19.
JPR said the ONS study now “makes it possible to compare the Jewish population’s experience with those of other religious groups,” as well as the general UK population as a whole, after taking into account factors such as age, demographics and socio-economic profiles.
Whilst JPR researchers acknowledged that age and geographical profile will have had “a significant negative effect” on the Jewish population, there were likewise reasons to think it should have had less of an effect on the Jewish population, such as average socio-economic and health profiles.
The JPR said this week that “even after accounting for these factors [such as age and geography], Jews still have a significantly elevated risk of death from Covid-19” when compared to other religious groups, such as Christians.
“The persistence of elevated risks when all appropriate controls have been put in-place suggests the presence of a particular ‘Jewish factor’ that independently inflates mortality, and does so more for males than females,” JPR said.
“Both the strength of this particular ‘Jewish factor’ and its differentiated effect by sex cannot be easily explained. We remain puzzled by these findings… Further research is needed to determine the causes generating Jewish vulnerability to Covid-19.”
Analysts warned against people jumping to conclusions, adding that there may be “localised circumstances,” an example of which was cited in Sweden.
“Jews have been dying there at a considerably higher rate than the national average,” JPR said. “But when we probed further we found that a high number of deaths in just one elderly Jewish care home in Stockholm created this distorting effect. When removed, Jews actually fared better than average.”