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Being a South Asian is likely a risk factor for severe Covid-19 infection and death. This is what a new study paper published in The Lancet has suggested. A research team from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Oxford, conducted the study to understand the ethnic differences in SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 outcomes during the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in England. They found that some minority ethnic populations in England were disproportionately at higher risk of getting SARS-CoV-2 infection and experiencing adverse COVID-19 outcomes compared with the White population. Among the minority ethnic populations, the South Asian communities were most likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, become severely ill, and even die than during the second wave of the pandemic, the paper said. Minority ethnic groups were also less likely to be tested than White groups, it added.
During the previous COVID-19 wave in the UK, which lasted from February to September 2020, minority ethnic groups were found to be at a higher risk of getting infected by the virus and suffer adverse outcomes (ie, hospitalisation, ICU admission, and death) compared to the white community. Mortality rates were found to be highest for the blacks in the. During the second wave (September to December 2020), risks of severe COVID-19 outcomes attenuated in all other minority ethnic groups relative to the White group, except the south Asian communities. For South Asians, the risk of more adverse Covid outcomes increased in the second wave, according to the study, published on 30 April.
Increased risk of Covid-19 among the minority ethnic groups is thought to be driven by factors such as living in deprived areas; working in high-exposure or front-line occupations; living in large, multigenerational households; a higher burden of underlying conditions like blood pressure and body weight; discrimination; and poor access to health or community services.
"Improving equity in clinical care and understanding potential interactions between COVID-19 and underlying conditions are essential for mitigating inequalities in the downstream effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection," the authors wrote. They added that more aggressive and tailored interventions are needed to meet the needs in these communities.
The risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease have been reported to be disproportionately increased in minority ethnic groups compared with White groups in other countries too, including the USA and Brazil, the researchers highlighted in the paper.
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