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Ethnicity, Household Composition and COVID-19 Mortality: A National Linked Data Study

By Vahé Nafilyan, Nazrul Islam, Daniel Ayoubkhani, Clare Gilles, Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Rohini Mathur, Annabel Summerfield, Karen Tingay, Miqdad Asaria, Ann John, Peter Goldblatt, Amitava Banerjee, Myer Glickman, Kamlesh Khunti

Posted 02 Dec 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.27.20238147

Background: Ethnic minorities have experienced disproportionate COVID-19 mortality rates. We estimated associations between household composition and COVID-19 mortality in older adults ([≥]65 years) using a newly linked census-based dataset, and investigated whether living in a multi-generational household explained some of the elevated COVID-19 mortality amongst ethnic minority groups. Methods: Using retrospective data from the 2011 Census linked to Hospital Episode Statistics (2017-2019) and death registration data (up to 27th July 2020), we followed adults aged 65 years or over living in private households in England from 2 March 2020 until 27 July 2020 (n=10,078,568). We estimated hazard ratios (HRs) for COVID-19 death for people living in a multi-generational household compared with people living with another older adult, adjusting for geographical factors, socio-economic characteristics and pre-pandemic health. We conducted a causal mediation analysis to estimate the proportion of ethnic inequalities explained by living in a multi-generational household. Results: Living in a multi-generational household was associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 death. After adjusting for confounding factors, the HRs for living in a multi-generational household with dependent children were 1.13 [95% confidence interval 1.01-1.27] and 1.17 [1.01-1.35] for older males and females. The HRs for living in a multi-generational household without dependent children were 1.03 [0.97 - 1.09] for older males and 1.22 [1.12 - 1.32] for older females. Living in a multi-generational household explained between 10% and 15% of the elevated risk of COVID-19 death among older females from South Asian background, but very little for South Asian males or people in other ethnic minority groups. Conclusion: Older adults living with younger people are at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality, and this is a notable contributing factor to the excess risk experienced by older South Asian females compared to White females. Relevant public health interventions should be directed at communities where such multi-generational households are highly prevalent. Funding: This research was funded by the Office for National Statistics.

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