£4.3m for six projects to explore virus-ethnicity link

Six new projects to improve our understanding of the links between coronavirus and ethnicity have been funded by the NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The projects, which total £4.3 million worth of funding, will explore; the impact of the virus specifically on migrant and refugee groups; work with key voices within BAME communities to create targeted, digital health messages; the introduction of a new framework to ensure the representation of people from BAME backgrounds in clinical trials testing new treatments and vaccines for coronavirus; and the creation of one the UK’s largest coronavirus cohorts.

Evidence shows that, after taking account of age and other sociodemographic factors, people from BAME backgrounds are nearly twice as likely to die of coronavirus than white people. There is an urgent need for more detailed data on why coronavirus disproportionately affects people from BAME backgrounds, building the essential evidence base needed to make recommendations to decision makers and protect the health of these groups.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England and Head of the NIHR, said "With evidence showing that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are more severely affected by Covid-19, it is critical that we understand what factors are driving this risk to address them effectively."

“The diverse range of projects funded by the NIHR and UKRI will help examine this association in detail, so that new treatments and approaches to care can be developed to target the ethnicities most at risk. This research will have embedded patient and public involvement with Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups at all stages of the research."