Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:sec><jats:title>Background</jats:title><jats:p>Ethnic minorities have experienced disproportionate COVID-19 mortality rates in the UK and many other countries. We compared the differences in the risk of COVID-19 related death between ethnic groups in the first and second waves the of COVID-19 pandemic in England. We also investigated whether the factors explaining differences in COVID-19 death between ethnic groups changed between the two waves.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Methods</jats:title><jats:p>Using data from the Office for National Statistics Public Health Data Asset on individuals aged 30-100 years living in private households, we conducted an observational cohort study to examine differences in the risk of death involving COVID-19 between ethnic groups in the first wave (from 24<jats:sup>th</jats:sup> January 2020 until 31<jats:sup>st</jats:sup> August 2020) and second wave (from 1<jats:sup>st</jats:sup> September to 28<jats:sup>th</jats:sup> December 2020). We estimated age-standardised mortality rates (ASMR) in the two waves stratified by ethnic groups and sex. We also estimated hazard ratios (HRs) for ethnic-minority groups compared with the White British population, adjusted for geographical factors, socio-demographic characteristics, and pre-pandemic health conditions.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Results</jats:title><jats:p>The study population included over 28.9 million individuals aged 30-100 years living in private households. In the first wave, all ethnic minority groups had a higher risk of COVID-19 related death compared to the White British population. In the second wave, the risk of COVID-19 death remained elevated for people from Pakistani (ASMR: 339.9 [95% CI: 303.7 – 376.2] and 166.8 [141.7 – 191.9] deaths per 100,000 population in men and women) and Bangladeshi (318.7 [247.4 – 390.1] and 127.1 [91.1 – 171.3] in men and women)background but not for people from Black ethnic groups. Adjustment for geographical factors explained a large proportion of the differences in COVID-19 mortality in the first wave but not in the second wave. Despite an attenuation of the elevated risk of COVID-19 mortality after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and health status, the risk was substantially higher in people from Bangladeshi and Pakistani background in both the first and the second waves.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Conclusion</jats:title><jats:p>Between the first and second waves of the pandemic, the reduction in the difference in COVID-19 mortality between people from Black ethnic background and people from the White British group shows that ethnic inequalities in COVID-19 mortality can be addressed. The continued higher rate of mortality in people from Bangladeshi and Pakistani background is alarming and requires focused public health campaign and policy changes.</jats:p><jats:p>*VN and NI contributed equally to this paper</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Research in context</jats:title><jats:sec><jats:title>Evidence before this study</jats:title><jats:p>A recent systematic review by Pan and colleagues demonstrated that people of ethnic minority background in the UK and the USA have been disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, compared to White populations. While several studies have investigated whether adjusting for socio-demographic and economic factors and medical history reduces the estimated difference in risk of mortality and hospitalisation, the reasons for the differences in the risk of experiencing harms from COVID-19 are still being explored during the course of the pandemic. Studies so far have analysed the ethnic differences in COVID-19 mortality in the first wave of the pandemic. The evidence on the temporal trend of ethnic inequalities in COVID-19 mortality, especially those from the second wave of the pandemic, is scarce.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Added value of this study</jats:title><jats:p>Using data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Public Health Data Asset on 29 million adults aged 30-100 years living in private households in England, we conducted an observational cohort study to examine the differences in the risk of death involving COVID-19 between ethnic groups in the first wave (from 24<jats:sup>th</jats:sup> January 2020 until 31<jats:sup>st</jats:sup> August 2020) and second wave (from 1<jats:sup>st</jats:sup> September to 28<jats:sup>th</jats:sup> December 2020). We find that in the first wave all ethnic minority groups were at elevated risk of COVID-19 related death compared to the White British population. In the second wave, the differences in the risk of COVID-19 related death attenuated for Black African and Black Caribbean groups, remained substantially higher in people from Bangladeshi background, and worsened in people from Pakistani background. We also find that some of the factors explaining these differences in mortality have changed in the two waves.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Implications of all the available evidence</jats:title><jats:p>The risk of COVID-19 mortality during the first wave of the pandemic was elevated in people from ethnic minority background. An appreciable reduction in the difference in COVID-19 mortality in the second wave of the pandemic between people from Black ethnic background and people from the White British group is reassuring, but the continued higher rate of mortality in people from Bangladeshi and Pakistani background is alarming and requires focused public health campaign and policy response. Focusing on treating underlying conditions, although important, may not be enough in reducing the inequalities in COVID-19 mortality. Focused public health policy as well as community mobilisation and participatory public health campaign involving community leaders may help reduce the existing and widening inequalities in COVID-19 mortality.</jats:p></jats:sec></jats:sec>

Original publication

DOI

10.1101/2021.02.03.21251004

Type

Journal article

Journal

medRxiv

Publisher

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Publication Date

05/02/2021