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Higher rates of severe COVID-19 in BAME groups remains a mystery

Higher rates of severe COVID-19 infections in BAME populations remains unexplained.

According to new research led by Queen Mary University of London, higher rates of severe COVID-19 infections in BAME populations are not explained by socioeconomic or behavioural factors, cardiovascular disease risk, or by vitamin D status.

The findings suggest that the relationship between COVID-19 infection and ethnicity is complex, and requires more dedicated research to explain the factors driving these patterns.

BAME ethnicity, male sex, higher body mass index, greater material deprivation, and household overcrowding were found to be independent risk factors for COVID-19.

The higher rates of severe COVID-19 in BAME populations was not sufficiently explained by variations in factors initially believed to cause these groups to be at higher risk for the virus, such as socio-economic factors.

Image credit: Mother Jones

Since the results of this research suggest factors which underlie ethnic differences in COVID-19 are not easily captured, the assessment of the role of biological considerations such as genetics, and approaches which more comprehensively assess the complex economic and socio behavioural differences among BAME groups, should now be a priority.

Some findings do suggest, however, that poor neighbourhoods and greater household crowding increase the risk of becoming infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

A study by Columbia University Irving Medical Center found that the disproportionate risk of infection among black and Hispanic groups in the U.S. may be explained by the density in people's domestic environments, of which these groups tend to live in and amongst crowded households and socially-interactive settings.


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