According to the main analysis, residents of South Asia most often die from coronavirus after hospitalization in the UK.
This is the only ethnic group that has an increased risk of death in the hospital and partly due to the high level of diabetes.
The study is extremely important because it estimates data from four out of ten of all hospital patients with Covid-19.
Researchers said policies such as protecting people at work and whoever gets the vaccine may now need to be changed.
The study involved 27 institutions across the UK, including universities and health authorities, as well as 260 hospitals.
Conclusions have were published online before official publication in the medical journal.
However, the results were reported to the UK Government Science Advisory Group – Sage – more than a month ago.
The study tells us only what happens when someone gets to the hospital, and not whether he had more likely cases of virus infection.
He examined nearly 35,000 patients with Covid-19 disease in 260 hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales until mid-May.
“South Asians are definitely more likely to die from Covid-19 in the hospital, but we don’t see a strong effect in the black group,” said BBC Professor Even Harrison of the University of Edinburgh.
People from South Asia were 20% more likely to die than whites. Other ethnic minorities did not have a higher mortality rate.
The largest study of its kind in the world shows:
- 290 out of every 1000 white people in need of hospital care Covid-19
- 350 out of every 1000 South Asians in need of Covid-19 inpatient care
The study also reveals profound differences in who needs hospital care based on ethnicity.
“The South Asian population at the hospital looks completely different than white,” said Professor Harrison.
He added: “They are on average 12 years younger, this is a huge difference, and they usually do not suffer from dementia, obesity or lung disease, but they have a very high level of diabetes.”
About 40% of patients in South Asia had type 1 or 2 diabetes, compared with 25% of the white groups.
Diabetes has a double effect, increasing the risk of infection and damaging organs, which can affect the ability to survive coronavirus infection.
It is believed that this is the main factor in increasing mortality among people of South Asian nationality, but the full picture has not yet been disclosed.
Other explanations may include poverty or subtle genetic differences that increase the risk of a serious infection, the researchers say.
The report says that ethnicity may now need to be considered along with age and other health problems when deciding who gets the vaccine if it becomes available. The same problem arises in solving who should protect and whether some people need additional protection in the workplace.
“This has far-reaching consequences that are hard to fight,” said BBC professor Harrison.
“Should there be a different policy for the first nurse from South Asia and the white nurse – that’s really difficult.”
The study showed that all ethnic minorities are more likely to need intensive care than people with a white background.
This may be partly due to the fact that the disease is becoming more serious. However, another factor is that white people were older and hurt, so ventilation in intensive care may not be an option.
The differences, however, were not in access to healthcare.
The report showed that all ethnic groups were admitted to the hospital at approximately the same stage of Covid-19, which suggests that there is no delay in receiving assistance between ethnic groups.
Earlier Public Health work in England showed that people from the Bangladeshi heritage died twice as often as whites, while other black, Asian, and ethnic minorities had a 10–50% higher risk of death. Although this does not take into account other factors, such as occupation, health problems and obesity.
Vitamin D and heart disease?
Meanwhile, Queen Mary’s University of London suggests that heart disease and vitamin D levels do not explain the increased risk of coronavirus in blacks, Asians, and ethnic minorities.
Both were proposed as potential explanations for greater risk in some groups.
Researchers used research data from the British biobank. It monitors people throughout their lives, including during a pandemic, and provides detailed personal and medical information about the people participating.
It did not look at deaths, rather, who tested positive for the virus in the hospital.
Their study, published in the Journal of Public Health, found that weight, poverty, and crowded homes made people more likely to get the virus.
Researchers Dr. Zahra Raisi-Estebrag and Professor Steffen Petersen told the BBC: “Although some of the factors we studied turned out to be important, none of them adequately explained ethnic differences.”
Even after they were taken into account, people from ethnic minorities were 59% more likely to get a positive result than people with a white background, and the reason remains unknown.
Dr. Raisi-Estabragh and Professor Petersen added: “This is a really important issue that we urgently need to resolve.
“There is a wide range of possible explanations, including sociological, economic, occupational and other biological factors, such as the various genetic susceptibilities that need to be considered.”
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