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Quantifying the association between COVID-19, ethnicity and mortality: A cohort study across three UK national databases


Quantifying the association between COVID-19, ethnicity and mortality: A cohort study across three UK national databases

What is the aim of the study and why is it important?

There are concerns with mounting evidence that people from ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and are more likely to have severe disease, leading to hospitalisation and death. Given the large variation of outcomes observed across broad ethnic minority groups, there may also be significant differences within these groups for COVID-19 related morbidity and mortality. For example, people from Pakistani and Indian backgrounds may have different outcomes even though they are both within the ‘Asian’ group because of potential cultural and socioeconomic differences. It is unclear if personal factors, such as ongoing health problems, current medicines and smoking status, or social factors, such as the number of people in each household, might account for some of these differences.

We will examine the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and subsequent hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 in different ethnicity groups and to identify if any personal, medical or social factors can explain any differences in risk across groups. We will use a large anonymised population-based electronic database (QResearch Database) to calculate the risk of these outcomes and try to find out if, and to what extent, personal, medical and social factors influence this risk.

Urgent clarity is needed on the link between ethnicity and increased risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19 related hospitalisation and death in order to identify and protect high-risk individuals in the event of a second wave and whilst prioritising preventative treatments such as vaccinations. Our work may also have implications outside the UK.

Chief Investigator

Julia Hippisley-Cox


Oxford University

Location of research

Oxford University

Date on which research approved


Project reference ID


Generic ethics approval reference


Are all data accessed are in anonymised form?


Brief summary of the dataset to be released (including any sensitive data)

We will combine results from national primary care databases in England including QResearch (21 million records), CPRD (14 million records) and the publicly available OpenSAFELY platform (24 million records). A detailed description of each database has been published elsewhere.[7,9] We will remove duplicates so that each record only appears once in the dataset. The sample will represent over 40% of the UK population.

Funding Source


Research Team

Defne Saatci (University of Oxford)

Kamlesh Khunti (University of Leicester)

Hajira Dambha-Miller (University of Southampton)

Simon Griffin (University of Cambridge)

Pui San Tan (University of Oxford)

Carol Coupland (University of Nottingham)

Baiju Shah (Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Ontario)

Ashley Clift (University of Oxford)

Martina Patone (University of Oxford)

Francesco Zaccardi (University of Leicester)

Approval Letters

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