The impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Black populations across the globe

Afro Health Initiative
8 min readJul 12, 2021

Written by Ritchie Aseke, July 2021


The coronavirus was first identified in December 2019 (COVID-19) in a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. In March 2020, COVID-19 was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to its alarming rate of spread and severity. This resulted in outbreaks throughout the globe [1]. This article will explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted black communities worldwide, specifically concentrating on the United Kingdom (UK), the United States of America (USA), and African countries in general.

High prevalence of COVID-19 in the UK and USA black population — why?

As of June 22nd 2020, the global recorded cases of COVID-19 reached up to 178 million with a mortality rate of approximately 2% [2]. The UK alone has seen over 4.6 million cases with a higher mortality rate of over 3.3%; by the end of 2020, the UK had the highest mortality rate of all European countries [3]. The differences in COVID-19’s impact across the country reveals an unfortunate but unsurprising disparity in how the pandemic affected different ethnic groups.

Research by Public Health England found the rate of COVID-19 diagnosis to be highest amongst people of Black ethnic groups compared to other ethnic groups. This also remained true when looking at the rate of severe illness and death in confirmed COVID-19 cases where people from Black and Asian ethnic groups were affected at a higher rate compared to White ethnic groups. The analysis of the relationship between ethnicity and health is always complex due to multiple factors at play. For example, the rate of COVID-19 diagnosis was found highest in more urban areas and professions with the highest risk of exposure; both factors are highly represented by ethnic minority groups which offer a plausible explanation to why ethnic minority groups have been affected at a higher rate compared to their white counterparts [4]. A deeper analysis of the ethnicity and health relation will uncover how systemic racism plays a significant role, however, that is beyond the scope of this article.

In the USA, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the country’s health inequity which predominantly impacts its’ black and ethnic minority groups and puts them more at risk of illness and…

Afro Health Initiative

Afrocentric brain gain​ platform engaging Africa’s diaspora for healthcare development