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Disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME populations not explained by cardiometabolic factors, vitamin D or deprivation, researchers find

Research has shown that the disprioportionate impact of COVID-19 on people of black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds cannot be attributed to cardiometabolic factors.

It should not have taken a pandemic to highlight BAME health inequalities


Men and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have a higher risk of severe COVID-19

Variations in cardiometabolic factors, vitamin D levels and socioeconomic or behavioural factors do not adequately explain why severe COVID-19 disproportionately affects black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) populations, according to research published in the Journal of Public Health (19 June 2020)[1].

Investigators from Queen Mary University of London studied 4,510 UK Biobank participants who had been tested for COVID-19 — 1,326 (29.4%) of whom tested positive. They used multivariate logistic regression models, including age, sex and ethnicity, to test whether the addition of cardiometabolic factors (such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol), vitamin D levels, poor diet, deprivation, housing or behavioural factors attenuated sex or ethnicity associations with COVID-19 status.

It was found that BAME ethnicity, male sex, higher body mass index, greater material deprivation and household overcrowding were independent risk factors for COVID-19. However, augmented risk in BAME populations was non-uniform, disproportionately affecting people of black and Asian ethnicities.

The ethnicity differential pattern of COVID-19 was not adequately explained by variations in cardiometabolic factors, vitamin D levels, or socioeconomic or behavioural factors. This, the researchers said, suggests that alternative biological pathways or genetic susceptibilities may have importance in driving the higher rates of severe COVID-19 in BAME populations and should be investigated.

“More comprehensive assessment of the complex economic, social and behavioural differences is [also] warranted”, the authors added.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208112

Readers' comments (1)

  • Race is a social construct with no scientific basis. There is as much genetic variation within racialised groups as there is between the whole human population. There is no biological reason for the higher death rates based on genetic differences between these groups and their white counterparts.
    But there is evidence they are the result of structural racism. All these underlying problems can be directly connected to the food and exercise you have access to, the level of education, employment, housing, healthcare, economic and political power within these communities. Social environment is key and must not be forgotten.

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