COVID-19 Among Ethnic Minorities: How Missing Data and Colour-Blind Policies Perpetuate Inequalities in the United Kingdom and the European Union


  • Tomasz Chwałek The Ethnicity and Covid-19 Research Consortium
  • Anna Greszta The Ethnicity and Covid-19 Research Consortium
  • Kyla Belisario McMaster University The Ethnicity and Covid-19 Research Consortium
  • Catherine E Rycroft The Ethnicity and Covid-19 Research Consortium
  • Talya Underwood The Ethnicity and Covid-19 Research Consortium
  • Michelle M King-Okoye IGDORE The Ethnicity and Covid-19 Research Consortium


covid-19, ethnic minorities, inequality


COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact ethnic minorities across the globe in the absence of disaggregated ethnicity-based data. In Europe, governments continue to take a "colour-blind" approach to reporting COVID-19 cases and deaths, with a purported effort to avoid discrimination. However, dichotomising populations as either Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) or White masks differences between ethnic groups by homogenising risk factors including gender, age, residential area, occupation, and socioeconomic status (SES), leading to vast oversimplification. Furthermore, in some European countries, data reported by ethnicity or birth country are limited or even non-existent, although recent reports from France and Scandinavia suggest a hugely disproportionate mortality rate in immigrants from low SES countries compared with Indigenous populations. Limited data on ethnicity in relation to COVID-19 infection and mortality restricts the understanding of causation factors and outcomes, a need, which must be addressed urgently as a public health priority.


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