The UK Government is to undertake a review into the health impact of COVID-19 which will include outcomes for NHS staff and different groups within the population.
The review, led by Public Health England (PHE), will analyse thousands of existing health records for people who have had COVID-19 in order to establish more robust data on the factors impacting the number of cases in the country.
The review aims to inform understanding of how different factors, such as ethnicity, deprivation, age, gender, and obesity, could impact on how people are affected by the virus.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and behind each statistic is a name, a loss and a family that will never be the same again.
“As part of our continued effort to understand even more about COVID-19, we have commissioned work from PHE to consider the impact of various factors such as ethnicity, obesity, age, gender and geographical location and how these may have an impact on someone’s susceptibility to the virus. The more we know about this virus and its impact, the more we will be able protect lives and limit the spread.”
Understanding the impact on different groups
As more evidence emerges that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting certain groups in society, such as the BAME community, the review will aim to understand the impact on factors such as ethnicity and gender. Vulnerable groups will also be analysed, including those experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping.
Where Public Health England has access to the occupation of cases, particularly related to health workers, analysis will be done on the outcome of infections for this group.
The review will also match laboratory records of COVID-19 cases to existing health records to draw down accurate data such as ethnicity and describe the association with COVID-19 cases.
Professor Kevin Fenton, Regional Director of Public Health at PHE and NHS London, who will be leading the review said: “Having an accurate understanding of how diseases affect different groups of people is a really important issue and a fundamental part of PHE’s role. Detailed and careful work is being done so that we can better understand this and explore the possible reasons for any disparities.
“Increasing evidence and concern around the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black and minority ethnic groups highlights an important focus of this review. PHE is rapidly building robust data and undertaking detailed analysis to develop our understanding of the impact of this novel coronavirus on different groups which can inform actions to mitigate the risks it presents.”
“PHE is engaging a wide range of external experts and independent advisors, representing diverse constituencies including devolved administrations, faith groups, voluntary and community sector organisations, local government, public health, academic, royal colleges and others. We are committed to hearing voices from a variety of perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on people of different ethnicities.”
Findings from the review will be published by the end of May 2020.