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Mass COVID-19 study finds BAME community in England worst affected

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Jess O'Hara a research technician works on the process of testing antibodies to see if they bind to the virus, in the laboratory at Imperial College in London, July 30, 2020
Jess O'Hara a research technician works on the process of testing antibodies to see if they bind to the virus, in the laboratory at Imperial College in London, July 30, 2020   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
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People from black, Asian and ethnic minority groups in England have been worst affected by COVID-19, according to a government at-home anti-body test that is the largest of its kind.

It found COVID-19 antibodies in 17% and 12% of black and Asian people who took part in the test respectively compared to 5% of people with white ethnicity.

The UK government said on Thursday that it is working with local authorities to try and "mitigate risks of transmission for BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) communities."

The REACT-2 study was conducted by the Imperial College and Ipsos MORI on 100,000 volunteers, aged at least 18, between June 20 and July 13, following the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

It also indicated that at least 6% of the population in England - 3.4 million people - contracted coronavirus.

People living in London were worst affected, as were those working in care homes and in the healthcare sector, as well as individuals living in the most deprived areas of the country.

While whether developing antibodies provides immunity to COVID-19 is yet to be established, large-scale testing may be a way to determine it, Health Minister Edward Argar said.

"We don’t yet know that antibodies provide immunity to coronavirus, but the more information we can gather on this virus, and the easier we can make it for people to participate in these studies, the better equipped we will be to respond."

The volunteers used a finger prick test which may be available on large-scale if it gets approval in the future.

A second study is set to take place in autumn testing a further 200,000 people for antibodies.