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Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Public health / Evaluation and performance

Review to examine factors impacting health outcomes from COVID-19

By Andrew Sansom 08 May 2020 0

Thousands of existing health records for people in England who have had COVID-19 are to be examined in order to understand the factors impacting the number of cases and health outcomes for different groups of the population.

The exercise is part of a rapid review being led by Public Health England (PHE) to better understand how different factors such as ethnicity, deprivation, age, gender and obesity could impact on how people are affected by COVID-19.

The review will also look at vulnerable groups, such as people experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping, to understand how the virus affects them and their health outcomes. 

Where PHE has access to the occupation of cases, particularly related to health workers, analysis will be carried out on the outcome of infections for this group.

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’ve 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’ll be able protect lives and limit the spread.”

The review will help provide insight into emerging evidence to suggest COVID-19 may be having a disproportionate impact on different groups, and examine the potential effects of other factors such as ethnicity, level of obesity or gender.

The review will also match laboratory records of COVID-19 cases to existing health records to draw down accurate data on, for example, ethnicity and describe the association with COVID-19 cases, alongside other factors such as sex, age and geographical location.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health Director for London will lead the review, supported by a wide group including Trevor Phillips, OBE.

Professor Kevin Fenton, regional director of public health at PHE and NHS London, said a key role of PHE is to gain an accurate understanding of how diseases affect different groups of people, and it wants to hear voices from a variety of perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on people of different ethnicities.

“Increasing evidence and concern around the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black and minority ethnic groups highlights an important focus of this review,” he continued. “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.”

The review involves PHE engaging a wide range of external experts and independent advisors, including devolved administrations, faith groups, voluntary and community-sector organisations, local government, public health, academia, royal colleges and others. 

Findings from the review will be published by the end of May.

Organisations involved