Growing evidence that minority ethnic groups in England may be at higher risk of COVID-19

May 29, 2020

Previous pandemics have often disproportionately impacted ethnic minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. While early evidence suggests that the same may be occurring in the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, research into the subject remains limited.

A team of researchers at the University of Glasgow and Public Health Scotland, UK analysed data on 392,116 participants in the UK Biobank study, a large long-term study investigating the contribution of genes and the environment to the development of disease. UK Biobank data, which include information on social and demographic factors, such as ethnicity and socioeconomic position, health and behavioural risk factors, were linked to results of COVID-19 tests conducted in England between 16th March 2020 and 3rd May 2020. Out of the total number of participants whose data were analysed, 348,735 were White British, 7,323 were South Asian and 6,395 were from black ethnic backgrounds. 2,658 participants had been tested for SARS-CoV-2 and 948 had at least one positive test. Out of those, 726 received a positive test in a hospital setting, suggesting more severe illness.

The authors found that, compared to people from white British backgrounds, the risks of testing positive were largest in in black and South Asian minority groups who were 3.4 and 2.4 times more likely to test positive, respectively, with people of Pakistani ethnicity at highest risk in the south Asian group (3.2 times more likely to test positive). Ethnic minorities also were more likely to receive their diagnosis in a hospital setting, which suggests more severe illness. The observed ethnic differences in infection risk did not appear to be fully explained by differences in pre-existing health, behavioural risk factors, country of birth, or socioeconomic differences. The authors also found that living in a disadvantaged area was associated with a higher risk of testing positive, particularly for the most disadvantaged (2.2 times more likely to test positive compared to the least disadvantaged), as was having the lowest level of education (2.0 times more likely to test positive compared to the highest level of education).

The findings suggest that some ethnic minority groups, especially black and South Asian people may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences of COVID-19. An immediate policy response is needed to ensure that the health system is responsive to the needs of ethnic minority groups, according to the authors. This should include ensuring that health and care workers, who often are from minority ethnic populations, have access to the necessary protective personal equipment. Timely communication of guidelines to reduce the risk of being exposed to the virus in a range of languages should also be considered.

The authors caution that test result data was only available for England. Those who were more advantaged were more likely to participate in the UK Biobank study and ethnic minorities may be less well represented. Further research is needed to investigate whether these findings are reflective of the broader UK population, alongside analysis of other datasets examining how SARS-CoV-2 infection affects different ethnic and socioeconomic groups, including in representative samples across different countries.
-end-


BMC (BioMed Central)

Related Education Articles from Brightsurf:

Applying artificial intelligence to science education
A new review published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching highlights the potential of machine learning--a subset of artificial intelligence--in science education.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

How can education researchers support education and public health and institutions during COVID-19?
As education researchers' ongoing work is interrupted by school closures, what can they do to support education and public health institutions dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Online education platforms could scale high-quality STEM education for universities
Online and blended (online and in-person) STEM instruction can produce the same learning outcomes for students as traditional, in-person classes at a fraction of the cost, finds research published today in Science Advances.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

The new racial disparity in special education
Racial disparity in special education is growing, and it's more complex than previously thought.

Education may be key to a healthier, wealthier US
A first-of-its-kind study estimate the economic value of education for better health and longevity.

How education may stave off cognitive decline
Prefrontal brain regions linked to higher educational attainment are characterized by increased expression of genes involved in neurotransmission and immunity, finds a study of healthy older adults published in JNeurosci.

Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.

Individual education programs not being used as intended in special education
Gone are the days when students with disabilities were placed in a separate classroom, or even in a completely different part of the school.

Read More: Education News and Education Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.