Researchers to look at issues affecting ethnic minority groups during Covid-19

A man wearing a protective face mask passes a mural showing Bame medical and transport workers (PA Archive)
0:01am, Tue 09 Feb 2021
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UK researchers will dig deeper into the reasons why people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Four new projects, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will look at the social, cultural and economic impacts of Covid-19.

The aim is to understand how and why BAME communities have been hit so hard, both by the disease itself and the broader consequences of the pandemic.

Previous research has found that black people are nearly four times as likely to die from Covid-19 as white people.

While data suggests that people from Asian backgrounds are up to two and a half times more likely to die.

We cannot ignore the social, cultural and economic factors that have shaped the experiences of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities throughout the pandemic

Minority ethnic groups are also among those who have faced the biggest labour market shocks as a result of the pandemic and have experienced above average increases in mental distress.

Findings from the four projects, which will be funded by a total of £4.5 million, will be used to design health interventions, policy recommendations, and other measures to help lessen the effect of the pandemic on these groups across the UK.

Two large projects will investigate the wider social, cultural and economic impacts of the pandemic on ethnic minorities in Britain.

In the first, researchers led by a team from the University of Manchester will assess the impact of the virus on ethnic minority communities across a broad spectrum of issues including health, housing, welfare, education, employment and policing.

The second, led by the University of Leeds, will investigate the combined impact of Covid-19 and racial discrimination on well-being and resilience across BAME families and communities in the UK.

Two smaller projects will focus on the effects of the virus on Birmingham’s Muslim communities and the impact of Covid-19 on mental health in ethnic minority communities.

The projects will begin in the coming months and will each run for 18 months.

UKRI chief executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated longstanding inequalities in health, employment and education in the UK.

“Emerging evidence suggests that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have experienced the hardest economic shocks.

“We cannot ignore the social, cultural and economic factors that have shaped the experiences of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities throughout the pandemic.

“It is crucial that we understand the depth and breadth of the impacts of these factors so that we can take action to alleviate the consequences for these communities.”

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