People of Asian ethnicity are 1.5 times more likely to be infected with Covid-19 compared to those of white ethnicity according to researchers at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham.

The findings published in EClinical Medicine by the medical journal The Lancet also revealed people of Black ethnicity are twice as likely to be infected with COVID-19 compared to those of White ethnicity.

The researchers at the universities looked at data from 8 UK and 42 US studies of more than 18 million people.

The data also showed that those of Asian ethnicities may be twice as likely to be admitted to an intensive therapy unit (ITU), compared to those who were white.

They said “a higher degree of morbidities within these populations” could be one of many factors why Asians were at higher risk of severe Covid-19.

The team said it did not find any increased risk of ITU admissions for people from black and white ethnicities.

However, the researchers cautioned that all studies investigating ITU admission included in the meta-analysis had not yet been peer-reviewed.

Dr Laura B Nellums, Assistant Professor in Global Health in the Division of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Nottingham and joint senior author of the paper, said: “There is increasing evidence of ethnic disparities in COVID-19, with poorer outcomes among ethnic minority groups in the wider community as well as those working in healthcare settings.  The findings highlight the higher risk of infection among individuals from Black and Asian ethnicities, which is likely driven by social and structural inequities.

Dr Manish Pareek, Associate Clinical Professor in Infectious Diseases at the University of Leicester, and senior author on the paper said: “Many explanations exist as to why there may be an elevated level of COVID-19 infection in ethnic minority groups, including the greater likelihood of living in larger household sizes comprised of multiple generations and being employed in frontline roles where working from home is not an option.