A student receives sanitizer before entering a class as schools reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Karachi, Pakistan, September 15, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
Ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus, with Blacks and Asians at increased risk of COVID-19 infection compared to white individuals, according to an analysis published in The Lancet medical journal.
About 18.7 million patients from 50 studies were included to establish the findings, the analysis said. Forty-two of the studies were from the US and eight from the UK.
“Asians may be at higher risk of ITU (intensive therapy unit) admission and death,” the analysis read.
“These findings are of critical public health importance in informing interventions to reduce morbidity and mortality amongst ethnic minority groups,” it added.
Ethnic minority groups were more likely to be employed as essential workers, and hence less able to work from home, the study said. Therefore, they continued to have contact with others through work or commuting, thereby being left more exposed to infection.
They are also more likely to have lower socioeconomic status, which may increase the likelihood of living in overcrowded households, or accommodation with shared facilities, the findings suggested.
Black people are twice as likely to become infected with COVID-19 as white people, and people from Asian backgrounds are one and a half times as likely, researchers found.
The study was conducted as a review and a meta-analysis to explore the relationship between ethnicity and clinical outcomes in COVID-19.
About half of the papers used in the analysis have appeared in peer-reviewed journals and the rest were preliminary findings.
(Reuters – reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christopher Cushing)