New briefing on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black and minority ethnic groups

16 December 2021

This micro briefing presents a range of evidence on the disproportionate impact of the social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on black and minority ethnic groups.

This is the third in a series of COVID-19 micro briefings developed by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and Policy Scotland and written in collaboration with expert partner agencies. This micro briefing has been written with the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER). CRER works to eliminate racial discrimination and promote racial justice across Scotland. Through capacity building, research and campaigning activities which respond to the needs of communities, CRER’s work takes a strategic approach to tackling deep rooted issues of racial inequality.

The impact of the pandemic on black and minority ethnic groups

The introduction to the briefing contains key points and a figure summary of the key concepts of the evidence reviewed. Thereafter, the briefing structures the evidence into three sections:

  • Disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on BME populations.
  • Pre-existing inequalities as a driver of ethnic disparity in COVID-19 outcomes.
  •  Racism and discrimination – the ‘causes of the causes’ of BME health inequalities, including COVID-19.

Having reviewed the evidence, the micro briefing then outlines some implications in terms of inequalities, policy, practice and further research. 

Key findings from the briefing

Black and minority ethnic (BME) populations, have experienced entrenched health inequalities for decades. In terms of global public health, the COVID-19 pandemic has become another means of perpetuating and worsening health inequalities among BME groups.

  • BME populations have experienced among the highest COVID-19 infection and death rates alongside other disproportionate social impacts. Evidence from global perspectives and from other parts of the UK make clear that the undue pandemic impacts on BME populations relate to pre-existing inequalities in health, employment, income, opportunity and access to health services. Much of these pre-existing inequalities are driven by discrimination and racism.
  • Within Scotland improvements are needed in ethnicity data quality in order to accurately assess the impacts of COVID-19 on BME populations.
  • Dismantling racism is essential to achieving health equity. Racism is a fundamental determinant of health and a systemic problem which demands structural interventions and reforms. Failure to do so will hinder equitable pandemic recovery efforts and will exacerbate the health and social inequalities evidenced among some BME communities.

Access the microbriefing

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