National Ethnic Communities Covid-19 Study

Our researchers have developed a campaign to improve understanding among ethnic minority communities of the risk posed by Covid-19 and to promote actions to help keep these communities safe. Campaign materials including videos, social media animations and downloadable leaflets emphasising good practice including testing and vaccination to protect Black and South Asian communities from Covid-19.

Keeping Black communities safe from Covid-19

Click here to read the Covid-19 Information Sheets for Black Communities in the UK

Keeping South Asian Communities safe from Covid-19

Click here to read the Covid-19 Information Sheets for South Asian Communities in the UK

For further information contact the COBHAM team by emailing

The problem: why was this project needed?

The Covid-19 pandemic has had devastating effects all around the world. As the pandemic spread in the UK, it became clear that ethnic minority communities were disproportionately affected by the virus. It is important for the government to understand why ethnic minorities are worse affected and put in place interventions to redress this inequality.

The solution: how does this study improve understanding between Covid-19 and ethnicity?

The Royal Surrey COBHAM study team, working with academic partners, interviewed members of the Black and South Asian communities to improve understanding about how Covid-19 health messages influenced them and how the impact of these could be improved.

The COBHAM study campaign was developed to incorporate key findings of the research to better reach these communities along with advice from Public Health England on keeping messages in line with government policies. It reflects ethnic minority perspectives including:

  • A mistrust of information from government officials combined with the importance of hearing messages from people they can better relate to – messages should come from the community to the community.
  • An underestimation of the risk posed to their personal health by Covid-19.
  • A feeling that health messages are not for their communities, do not reflect their culture or use of language and are, instead, focused on white people. 
  • Vaccine fear and anxiety arising from anti-vaccine propaganda.

The impact of these interventions will be studied, evaluated, and reported as an academic publication.

This study is one of six original projects to improve our understanding of the links between Covid-19 and ethnicity which were funded in July 2020 by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). More information about the studies is available on the National Institute of Health Research website. These projects seek to explain and mitigate the disproportionate effects of Covid-19 among people from ethnic minorities.

Principal Investigator: Professor Aftab Ala, Director of Research, Development and Innovation and Consultant Physician.