Published on 4 July 2024

Researchers suggest minority ethnic groups underrepresented in long Covid research.

Researchers from the University of Leicester have highlighted a significant shortage of studies examining the prevalence and causes of long Covid among ethnic minority groups, in contrast to the research available on white populations.

A recently published article in Nature led by Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Dr Rachael Evans and a team of academics from the University of Leicester demonstrated that long Covid symptoms experienced by ethnic minorities differ from those experienced by white individuals. 

The report said: “There have also been difficulties in the interpretation of post-acute sequelae and symptom burden experienced by different ethnic groups.”

The study cited previous studies in the US that found that a number of health complications, including diabetes, were more common in black populations, whereas sleep disorders and gastroesophageal reflux disease were more common in white populations.

The report said: “Another large US study assessed new symptoms and conditions 31–180 days after Covid diagnosis and found that hospitalised black patients had higher odds of being diagnosed with diabetes and headaches, whereas Hispanic patients had higher odds of headaches and dyspnea.

“Non-hospitalised black patients also had higher odds of pulmonary embolism and diabetes, and Hispanic patients had higher odds of being diagnosed with headaches or chest pain.”  

To accurately represent ethnic minority populations in long Covid research, academics must modify the language they use and address health literacy barriers, according to the study.

Previous research says ethnic minorities have been disproportionally affected by acute Covid-19.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “To enhance the representation of ethnic minorities in long Covid research, we must collaborate closely with these communities to identify the outcomes that are most significant to them.

“Despite our limited knowledge about long Covid, it is crucial for future research to address ethnic minority disparities to prevent exacerbating existing inequalities.”

He added: “The underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in long Covid research is concerning and underscores the urgent need for inclusive studies that capture the diverse experiences within our communities.

“Addressing this gap is essential to ensure equitable healthcare responses and improve outcomes for all affected populations.”

Read the report in Nature

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