A NEW study has revealed that people from black and Asian backgrounds in the UK are at substantially greater risk of contracting coronavirus than white people.
The study, published in the journal EClinicalMedicine by the Lancet, has analysed 50 studies that reported on the medical records of nearly 19 million Covid patients. About half of the papers have appeared in peer-reviewed journals and the rest are preliminary findings.
Black people are twice as likely to become infected with coronavirus as white people, and people from Asian backgrounds are one and a half times as likely to get the virus, the study said.
It further reveals that people from Asian backgrounds are more likely to be admitted to intensive care and may have a greater risk of death with coronavirus than white people.
Manish Pareek, an associate clinical professor in infectious diseases at the University of Leicester, said that the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on Black and Asian people was driven by the higher risk of infection in those communities.
The reasons behind the ‘adverse impact’ are greater levels of deprivation, living in larger, multi-generational households, and having more public-facing jobs where working from home is not an option.
Pareek pointed out that these studies highlight the need for ‘early medical help’ for black and Asian people in the UK.
The research team screened 1,500 published articles and preprints before focusing their analysis on 50 papers produced in the US and the UK. The studies appeared between 1 December 2019 and 31 August 2020.
A recent report from the Office for National Statistics said men from black African backgrounds in England and Wales are nearly three times more likely to die from Covid than white men. Women from black Caribbean backgrounds were nearly twice as likely to die as white women.
There is an argument for prioritising black and Asian people within each age band while giving the vaccine.
“These are really difficult decisions that the government and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will need to come together on and make until vaccine is more widely available,” Pareek told The Guardian.
Nishi Chaturvedi, a professor of clinical epidemiology at University College London, has said that the latest study confirmed that minority ethic groups have higher risks of infection. She called for an investigation on the risks in more closely defined populations such as Indian Asians and Chinese, rather than lumping the groups together.
“People from ethnic minorities are more likely to work in high-risk occupations such as health and social care, and are more likely to have co-morbidities such as diabetes,” she told The Guardian.