More ethnicity data for COVID-19 deaths is crucial, says GlobalData

In the UK and US, there is a pattern of minority ethnic groups having a higher risk of death due to COVID-19 compared with their white counterparts. More research to understand the exact mechanisms of this disparity is vital but this is often hindered by a lack of ethnicity reporting alongside COVID-19 death data. The UK government should begin including ethnicity on death certificates in order to aid research in this area, says GlobalData, a leading analytics company.

Katie Wrenn, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData, comments: “The majority of countries worldwide have not reported ethnicity alongside COVID-19 deaths. This makes research into the role of ethnicity as a risk factor for COVID-19 death in these countries much harder. Inclusion of ethnicity on death certificates should be considered essential as a means of detecting those most at risk much sooner. Putting this system in place now will be especially important in handling future pandemics.”

According to GlobalData’s analysis of ONS and AML Research Lab data, both the UK and the US have shown minority ethnic groups – black ethnic groups in particular with 60 deaths per 100,000 black population in the US and 40 per 100,000 in the UK – to have the highest risk of death from COVID-19 in comparison to white ethnic groups. As two of the most heavily affected countries with COVID-19 worldwide, comparison of ethnicity data in COVID-19 deaths has highlighted that this disparity is not singular to one population and other countries should consider minority ethnic groups as a risk factor for COVID-19. Further research at community and national level is essential in gaining a deeper understanding of this disproportionate effect.

Wrenn concludes, “Overall, there is insufficient national and worldwide data for the role of ethnicity in COVID-19 death. Although enquiries in the UK and US are being carried out, they require more research to tailor a public health response, which will be most effective in protecting these communities.”

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