Asian and Black people have a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than White people, according to a meta-study published on Thursday.
Researchers from the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham, with support from the U.K.’s National Institute for Health Research, screened 1,500 studies before focusing on 50 that documented records of about 19 million coronavirus patients in the U.S. and the U.K.
They found that Asian people are 1.5 times more likely to get COVID-19 than White people, while Black people are twice as likely.
Such increased risk can be caused by various factors, such as living in larger households, having lower socioeconomic status and being in frontline roles where home-based work is not an option, according to senior author Dr. Manish Pareek.
The meta-study, published in the journal EClinicalMedicine, is the first comprehensive and systematic review of research papers that tackle the impact of COVID-19 among ethnic groups. The studies it analyzed were either published between Dec. 1, 2019, and Aug. 31, 2020, or pre-prints awaiting peer-review.
The researchers also found that Asian people are more likely to end up in the intensive care unit and die of the disease than White people. However, they stressed that the data on intensive care admissions have not been peer-reviewed, while the increased death risk was only “borderline” statistically significant.
BREAKING: Public Health England review finds death rates from #COVID19 higher for black and asian ethnic groups when compared to white ethnic groups.
— SkyNews (@SkyNews) June 2, 2020
The researchers believe racism and structural discrimination could also contribute to the increased infection risk, citing healthcare barriers faced by people of color in the U.S. and the U.K.
“The clear evidence of increased risk of infection amongst ethnic minority groups is of urgent public health importance — we must work to minimise exposure to the virus in these at-risk groups by facilitating their timely access to healthcare resources and target the social and structural disparities that contribute to health inequalities,” said Dr. Shirley Sze, a lead author of the study.
Dr. Daniel Pan, another lead author, added: “Future papers must try to adjust for the risk of infection when looking at the risk of ITU (intensive therapy unit) admission and death in COVID-19 patients, in order for us to accurately assess the impact of ethnicity on an individual’s risk of death once they are infected.”
Read the full study here.
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