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Biochemical abnormalities in COVID-19: a comparison of white versus ethnic minority populations in the UK


Aims Public Health England has identified that in COVID-19, death rates among ethnic minorities far exceeds that of the white population. While the increase in ethnic minorities is likely to be multifactorial, to date, no studies have looked to see whether values for routine clinical biochemistry parameters differ between ethnic minority and white individuals.

Methods Baseline biochemical data for 22 common tests from 311 SARS-CoV-2 positive patients presenting to hospital in April 2020 in whom ethnicity data were available was retrospectively collected and evaluated. Data comparisons between ethnic minority and white groups were made for all patient data and for the subset of patients subsequently admitted to intensive care.

Results When all patient data were considered, the ethnic minority population had statistically significant higher concentrations of C reactive protein (CRP), aspartate aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase, while troponin T was higher in the white group. A greater proportion of ethnic minority patients were subsequently admitted to intensive care, but when the presenting biochemistry of this subset of patients was compared, no significant differences were observed between ethnic minority and white groups.

Conclusion Our data show for the first time that routine biochemistry at hospital presentation in COVID-19 differs between ethnic minority and white groups. Among the markers identified, CRP was significantly higher in the ethnic minority group pointing towards an increased tendency for severe inflammation in this group.

  • COVID-19
  • biochemistry
  • inflammation

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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