New research suggests that people of Black, mixed, and Asian ethnicity are more at risk of COVID-19, but these risks vary as the disease progresses.
A new study finds that COVID-19 risks for people of Black, mixed, or Asian ethnicity vary over the course of the disease.
The research also suggests that even after accounting for socioeconomic status and other comorbidities, these populations are more at risk of contracting COVID-19.
For the authors of the research, which appears in the journal EClinicalMedicine, this suggests that other yet-to-be-identified factors associated with ethnicity are likely to be at play.
As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, both anecdotal evidence and emerging studies are making clear how the disease disproportionately affects people from different ethnic backgrounds.
However, the reasons for this, precisely what form these effects take, and how different ethnic groups are affected are yet to be fully understood.
For example, a person’s ethnicity may make them more likely to be exposed to the virus, contract it, develop a severe case of COVID-19, or all three.
There may also be different reasons for these increased risks. Ethnicity may increase risk due to associated illnesses, socioeconomic status, education, employment, genetic differences, or issues linked to racism that encompasses many of the issues mentioned above.
Furthermore, ethnicity itself is a complicated factor due to the complexities of individual genetic heritage.
As Dr. Winston Morgan, a Reader in Toxicology and Clinical Biochemistry at the University of East London, United Kingdom, argues, “there is as much genetic variation within racialized groups as there is between the whole human population.”
For the researchers, while genetic differences can, at times, be associated with specific ethnicities and linked to particular health issues, how this could work in the context of COVID-19 is far from clear.
Indeed, for Dr. Morgan: “The evidence suggests that the new coronavirus does not discriminate but highlights existing discriminations. The continued prevalence of ideas about race today – despite the lack of any scientific basis – shows how these ideas can mutate to justify the power structures that have ordered our society since the 18th century.”
In this context, better understanding the relationship between adverse COVID-19 outcomes and ethnicity is crucial in reducing these negative outcomes.
To contribute to this task, the authors of the present research developed a study to examine whether people from different ethnic groups are more likely to be admitted to hospital with severe COVID-19 and whether they are more likely to die from the disease. The team also wanted to consider the socioeconomic factors and comorbidities associated with the differences they identified.
The authors carried out two studies. The first — an observational study — looked at the data from 1,827 adults who had confirmed cases of COVID-19 and were admitted to King’s College Hospital in London, UK, between March 1 and June 2, 2020.
The second — a