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New report outlines how the government can address COVID-19 ethnic disparity

19 Jan 2021

A new report from The Runnymede Trust and the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity has addressed the possible causes of - and offers solutions to – the ethnic disparity of the effects of coronavirus


Ethnic minority people experience a much higher risk of COVID-19-related death - a stark inequality that impacts on all ethnic minority groups. Ethnic minorities are also at increased risk of complications and mortality post COVID-19 infection.

There has been much discussion of what might be driving ethnic inequalities in infections and outcomes - these include speculative approaches which question whether inequalities might be due to genetic or ‘cultural’ differences.

There is no evidence for genetic or genetically-related biological factors underlying this increased risk, including vitamin D deficiency. Greater risk is more likely to be the result of pre-existing social and economic inequalities manifesting in the form of chronic illness.

These inequalities reflect increased risk of exposure to the virus because of where people live, the type of accommodation they live in, household size, the types of jobs they do and the means of transport they use to get to work.

Unless racism is understood as a key driver of the inequalities which increase the chances of exposure to and mortality from COVID-19, government and public sector policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic risk further increasing ethnic inequalities in the UK.

“The stark ethnic inequalities in relation to the coronavirus pandemic reflect wider and longstanding inequalities. Underpinning these are processes related to and the consequences of structural, institutional and interpersonal racism and discrimination,” said report author James Nazroo, Professor of Sociology.

“It is vital that as we deal with the current crisis and plot our way out of it we take the opportunity to put in place action to address these inequalities.”