Ethnicity and COVID-19

Ethnicity and COVID-19

Updated 1 Jun 2020

There is significant concern at present about possible increased vulnerability for BAME individuals, particularly those working in healthcare roles where they may be at increased risk of exposure. There are many possible reasons for this. Our research does indicate an increased vulnerability that is particularly evident with increased age. The tables on the main page indicate the added age vulnerability factor for the groups where evidence is available.

Ethnicity Relative Risk Equivalent added years of age
Asian or Asian British 1.6 4
Black 1.7 6
Mixed 1.6 5
Other non-white 1.3 3

It is for the employer to discuss adjustments and protection with individual employees, related to their Covid Age. It is recognised that this will be a sensitive matter, but it is important to recognise the scientific evidence relating to ethnicity and sex differences. It could be considered appropriate to give equivalent adjustments and protection to a healthy white male aged 60, a healthy Black male aged 54 with a Covid Age of 60, a healthy Asian female aged 64 with a Covid Age of 60 and a healthy white female aged 68 with a Covid Age of 60.

Further adjustments will be needed for co-morbidities, and it is particularly important to recognise that these have different prevalence in different ethnic groups.


Vulnerability levels

Very high (Red)

Risk of severe illness or death if contracts COVID-19. Read more

High (Orange)

Likely to need hospitalisation if contracts COVID-19, with protracted illness and heavy NHS burden. Read more

Increased/Moderate (Yellow)

Increased risk compared with healthy individual but should recover.

Low/Standard (Green)

No greater risk than healthy individual.