By Reuters Staff
(Reuters) - Ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus, with Blacks and Asians at increased risk of COVID-19 infection compared to white individuals, according to an analysis published in The Lancet medical journal.
About 18.7 million patients from 50 studies were included in the review and meta-analysis. Forty-two of the studies were from the United States and eight from the United Kingdom.
"Asians may be at higher risk of ITU (intensive therapy unit) admission and death," the analysis found.
"These findings are of critical public health importance in informing interventions to reduce morbidity and mortality amongst ethnic minority groups," write the authors, led by Shirley Sze of the University of Leicester in the UK.
Ethnic minority groups were more likely to be employed as essential workers, and hence less able to work from home, the study said. Therefore, they continued to have contact with others through work or commuting and were more exposed to infection.
They are also more likely to have lower socioeconomic status, which may increase the likelihood of living in overcrowded households, or accommodation with shared facilities, the findings suggested.
Black people are twice as likely to become infected with COVID-19 as white people, and people from Asian backgrounds are one and a half times as likely, researchers found.
The study was conducted to explore the relationship between ethnicity and clinical outcomes in COVID-19.
About half of the papers used in the analysis have appeared in peer-reviewed journals and the rest were preliminary findings.
(This story clarifies that analysis was published in the Lancet's journal EClinicalMedicine, not the Lancet itself)