COVID Briefings


The COVID Briefings: the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity in association with the Runnymede Trust

In the 18 months that followed the spring of 2020, the world has seen a collision of crises.  

In May 2020 the murder of George Floyd was the spark for worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, which demanded not only an end to the killing of Black men and women at the hands of the police, but also an examination of wider issues of systemic racism.

But at the same time the world was fighting the health crisis of COVID-19. That health emergency and the lockdowns that happened in response, only served to exacerbate some of these long-standing racial inequalities even further. 

Ongoing research conducted by the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) aims to capture the in-depth experiences of racially minoritised individuals and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, focussing particularly on the areas of

  • health (Ethnic inequalities in Covid19 mortality)
  • employment (Apprenticeship policy)
  • policing (Racism, Policing and COVID-19) 
  • and statues 

Ethnic inequalities in COVID-19 mortality: a consequence of persistent racism

Authors- James Nazroo, Laia Bécares

Key points -

  • Ethnic minority people experience a much higher risk of COVID-19-related death, a stark inequality that impacts on all ethnic minority groups, including white minority groups such as Gypsies and Irish Travellers.
  • Local authorities with higher proportions of ethnic minority residents are likely to have higher numbers of COVID-19-related deaths.
  • These inequalities reflect increased risk of exposure to the virus because of where people live, the type of accommodation they live in, household size, the types of jobs they do and the means of transport they use to get to work.
  • Ethnic inequalities in relation to COVID-19 mirror longstanding ethnic inequalities in health. A large body of evidence has shown that these inequalities are driven by social and economic inequalities, many of which are the result of racial discrimination.
  • Ethnic minorities are also at increased risk of complications and mortality post COVID-19 infection; greater risk of serious illness with COVID-19 is more likely the result of pre-existing social and economic inequalities manifesting in the form of particular chronic illnesses. There is no evidence for genetic or genetically related biological factors underlying this increased risk, including vitamin D deficiency.
  • Unless racism is understood as a key driver of the inequalities which increase the chances of exposure to and mortality from COVID-19, government and public sector policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic risk further increasing ethnic inequalities in the UK.

Download the briefing here.

COVID-19 and Apprenticeship Policy for Ethnic Minority Young People

Authors - Ken Clark, Steve Nolan 

Key points -

  • Despite some growth in the number of apprenticeship starts by ethnic minority learners, their representation relative to the secondary school population remains low.
  • Much of the growth in apprenticeship starts in the past decade has been driven by older apprentices.
  • Ethnic minority apprentices tend to favour certain sectors: health, public services and care; business, administration and law.
  • White apprentices are more likely to complete the training than their counterparts from ethnic minorities in all sectors except for hospitality.
  • Following the COVID-19 lockdown, vacancies for apprenticeships fell dramatically, including in those sectors favoured by ethnic minority learners.
  • The government’s Kickstart programme runs the risk of undermining the push for greater ethnic minority representation in apprenticeships. 

Download the full briefing here

Collision of Crises:  Racism, policing, and the COVID-19 pandemic

Authors - Scarlet Harris, Remi Joseph-Salisbury, Patrick Williams, Lisa White

Key points - 

  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government has introduced unprecedented police powers under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations and the Coronavirus Act.
  • At the same time, the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests ignited intense public debates around policing, which have continued into 2021 with the ‘Kill the Bill’ protests against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
  • Reflecting historical patterns, the policing of the pandemic has had the greatest impact on racially minoritised communities, with new police powers adding to and exacerbating pre-existing forms of racist policing. 
  • Racial disparities are evident in official data on use of force, stop and search, Fixed Penalty Notices and use of Section 60, and apparent in widespread media reports of excessive policing across public settings.

Download the full briefing here


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