Longstanding health disparities affecting ethnic minorities in the UK have been made acutely visible by the COVID-19 pandemic. The disproportionate effects of COVID-19 among minority ethnic groups were present from the beginning, with Black and Asian patients in the UK being over-represented among those with COVID-19 receiving advanced respiratory support. Analysis of data from Public Health England later highlighted that deaths from COVID-19 among people from minority ethnic groups were two to four times greater than those among the White population in England. Several reasons for these differences were considered, including a higher prevalence of comorbidities associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes (eg, type 2 diabetes among British South Asians), greater social deprivation, large multigenerational households, differences in occupational risk, and delayed access to health care, which all disproportionally affect minority ethnic groups. Despite these concerns, public health recommendations specifically targeted for ethnic minority groups at the time were limited.


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Morales, D. & Ali, S. 2021, 'COVID-19 and disparities affecting ethnic minorities', Lancet, 397(10286), pp. 1684-1685. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00949-1

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Last updated: 02 June 2023
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