Public Health Scotland first published analysis of available data on the variation in outcomes by ethnic group among those tested positive for COVID-19 on 20 May. An update using more complete data on ethnicity was published on 15 July. Today we are publishing a further update to the analysis. The update focusses on comparisons of the risk of more serious outcomes due to COVID-19, requiring hospitalisation or intensive care or dying within 28 days following a positive swab test result.

There is firmer evidence of increased risks of serious illness due to COVID-19 in those of South Asian origin, with a two-fold increase in risk of needing critical care or dying within 28 days of a positive test. This increase is still apparent after accounting for diabetes and when COVID-19 deaths in those never testing positive are included. There is also evidence of an increased risk of hospitalisation due to COVID-19 among those of Black, Caribbean or African ethnicity. We will continue to monitor the data on risk of COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months.

Dr Andrew Fraser, Senior Advisor at Public Health Scotland said:

"Each and every death from COVID-19 is a tragedy; responding to the effects of the virus and doing all we can to protect the nation’s health remains our priority. Understanding any inequity in risk of COVID-19 is a crucial part of this."

"Public Health Scotland continues to work with NHS Boards to maximise the recording of ethnicity on hospital records so that we can maximise the value of data we already have collected. Our work with the Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity continues to draw on this analysis, adds to the work of the National Records of Scotland and larger studies, including from England, and makes recommendations on how to improve the quality of data and evidence available on ethnicity. This is crucial so that we can fully understand and respond to the impact of COVID-19 on all of Scotland’s population, and groups within it."

Last updated: 06 October 2022