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Analysis of COVID-19 Outcomes by Ethnic Group

We have released an update to data on the variation in outcomes by ethnic group among those tested positive for COVID-19.

In May of this year, Public Health Scotland published an initial analysis of available data on the variation in outcomes by ethnic group among those tested positive for COVID-19. Today we have updated this analysis.

Since May, further cases have accumulated and improvements have been made to ensure ethnicity data was available for a higher proportion of patients. Our analyses shows emerging evidence of increased risks of serious illness due to COVID-19 in people of South Asian origin. There is evidence that some of the increased risk of the most severe outcomes may be accounted for by diabetes. Quantifying the raised risk is difficult however as estimates are uncertain due to small numbers. For other minority ethnic groups, numbers were too small to for differences in risk to be compared with confidence. Further analysis using data for additional emerging cases may help to increase certainty in estimates and clarify risks.

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

"Each and every death from COVID19 is a tragedy; responding to 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."

"PHS continues to work with NHS Boards to maximise the recording of ethnicity on hospital records so that we can do this, and maximise the value of data we already have collected. We are also working closely with partners and the Scottish Government as part of an Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity. The aim of the group is to recommend how to improve the quality of data and evidence available on ethnicity. This is crucial so that we can fully understand the impact of COVID-19 on all of Scotland’s population, and groups within it."

First published on 15 July 2020