University of Manchester study finds higher risk of infection behind ethnic minority Covid deaths

  • Dr Patsy Irizar told Granada Reports about the findings from The University of Manchester

A new Covid-19 study from the University of Manchester has found that higher rates of severe illness and death among ethnic minority groups during the pandemic was largely driven by a greater risk of infection.

The study, published on Monday 6 March, examines the global impact of the pandemic and found that the biggest driver of ethnic inequalities was in infection rates.

Compared with the white majority group, South Asian people were three times more likely to test positive for infection. Black people were 1.8 times more likely, and mixed and other ethnic groups were each 1.3 times more likely.

Dr Patsy Irizar from The University of Manchester said: "It might result from socio-economic inequalities such as living in poor quality or overcrowded housing, not having access to open spaces, not being able to work from home and relying on public transport.

"That could be having an impact on the ability to self-isolate."

Among studies that looked at the risk of severe illness or death from Covid-19 in the whole population, black people were 1.5 times more likely to be admitted to hospital than the white majority.

The risk of needing intensive care was also higher; South Asian, East Asian, indigenous, Hispanic and black groups all had more than triple the risk than white majority groups.

Socio-economic factors were at play for some people being more likely to test positive. Credit: PA Images

Indigenous people had twice the risk of dying than white majority people, with the mixed ethnic group at 1.4 times the risk and the Hispanic group at 1.3 times the risk.

"This latest study, now of over 200 million individuals from around the world, confirms and builds on our earlier work highlighting the disproportionate risk of Covid-19 in ethnic minority groups," said Professor Manish Pareek, chair in Infectious Diseases at the University of Leicester.

"This work will be of relevance to UK’s independent public inequiry into the pandemic, which has committed to examining the impact of inequalities at the forefront of its investigations.

"Going forward it is critical that policy-makers address health inequalities to improve health outcomes for ethnic minority groups."

The study involved teams of experts from The University of Manchester, the University of Leicester and the University of Glasgow, as well as individuals from Kings College London and the University of Nottingham.

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