The news: A study of more than 17 million people in England has confirmed the various factors that are linked with an increase in a person’s risk of dying from covid-19: their age, being male, Black or from an ethnic minority background, or having underlying health conditions. It confirms much of what previous research has found, but it’s by far the largest study yet. It was published in Nature yesterday.
The research: The researchers used pseudonymized health records from about 40% of England’s population—17,278,392 adults—of which 10,926 were recorded as dying from covid-19 or covid-19-related complications. They plugged this data into a health analytics platform they’d built, called OpenSAFELY. The team has said it will keep adding to the platform as more patients’ records become available.
What they found: As we knew, age is the single biggest indicator of whether someone is likely to die from coronavirus, and the risk increases sharply among the over-80s. People older than 80 were hundreds of times more likely to die than the under-40s, and more than 90% of deaths in England were in people over 60. Men were more likely to die than women of the same age: they accounted for 60% of all deaths. People with underlying medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, severe asthma and cardiovascular disease were at higher risk, as were people with lower incomes.
Ethnic disparities: The study confirmed that Black, South Asian, and people from other ethnic minority groups were more likely to die than white patients. The researchers could not establish why there is such a big ethnic disparity but said “only a small part of the excess risk is explained by higher prevalence of medical problems such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes among BME people, or higher deprivation.” In the US, Black and Latino people are almost twice as likely to die as white people, according to data obtained by suing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.