Why COVID-19 is “taking (ethnic) people out" in the USA and UK
Age, sex and the existence of comorbidities have all been documented as reasons why COVID-19 is mild or asymptotic is some and for others can cause hospitalisation and even death. There are exceptions of course but there are also very clear trends. As noted from our previous analysis of comorbidity data from Italy and China, hypertension is the most frequent comorbidity noted in COVID-19 positive deaths. US data on hypertension discloses a much higher age-adjusted incidence of hypertension in African Americans and Asians than in Whites. This is a good example of how ethnicity is a factor that can increase the risk of hospitalisation & death due to COVID-19. However, there are also other factors that increase the risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In the UK doctors treating COVID-19 are much more likely to be from an ethnic group. In the USA, 17% of physicians are Asian but Asians represent less than 1% of the overall population. The trend for nursing is similar, especially with African-Americans nurses in the USA. Beyond front line medical staff, there are is also an ethnicity issue with those still working to support us, for example, delivery drivers, public transport workers and supermarket assistants. In the USA, Louisiana reports 70% of coronavirus deaths are black. In the UK, there are reports that ethnic minorities “are a third of (COVID-19) patients”. Age, sex and ethnicity factors are not going to make upcoming difficult decisions for governments any easier to make and to get our support behind.