Race, socioeconomic deprivation, and hospitalization for COVID-19 in English participants of a national biobank

Int J Equity Health. 2020 Jul 6;19(1):114. doi: 10.1186/s12939-020-01227-y.


Preliminary reports suggest that the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID- 19) pandemic has led to disproportionate morbidity and mortality among historically disadvantaged populations. We investigate the racial and socioeconomic associations of COVID- 19 hospitalization among 418,794 participants of the UK Biobank, of whom 549 (0.13%) had been hospitalized. Both Black participants (odds ratio 3.7; 95%CI 2.5-5.3) and Asian participants (odds ratio 2.2; 95%CI 1.5-3.2) were at substantially increased risk as compared to White participants. We further observed a striking gradient in COVID- 19 hospitalization rates according to the Townsend Deprivation Index - a composite measure of socioeconomic deprivation - and household income. Adjusting for socioeconomic factors and cardiorespiratory comorbidities led to only modest attenuation of the increased risk in Black participants, adjusted odds ratio 2.4 (95%CI 1.5-3.7). These observations confirm and extend earlier preliminary and lay press reports of higher morbidity in non-White individuals in the context of a large population of participants in a national biobank. The extent to which this increased risk relates to variation in pre-existing comorbidities, differences in testing or hospitalization patterns, or additional disparities in social determinants of health warrants further study.

Keywords: COVID-19; Health disparity; Race; Socioeconomic deprivation.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biological Specimen Banks
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / ethnology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / ethnology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology