A large-scale study found that South Asian Covid-19 patients, including those from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are more likely to die in UK hospitals than patients from other ethnic groups.
Data from 34,986 Covid-19 patients treated in 260 British hospitals showed no difference between ethnic groups in the early stages of the disease, reports Bloomberg.
However, ethnic minorities of all backgrounds were more likely than whites to require critical care and ventilator treatment once in the hospital.
After hospitalization, South Asian patients were 20 percent more likely to die than other ethnic groups - a finding only partly explained by higher rates of pre-existing diabetes.
The report says the findings have "important implications" for public health policy, with many South Asians working in frontline health-care positions.
"Ethnicity should be accounted for in the prioritization of prevention treatment and future vaccination policy," the report said.
People of South Asian ethnicity make up more than 5 percent of the UK's population, government data show, while 10 percent of the National Health Service workers are of non-Chinese Asian ethnicity, the largest percentage after white people.
"The South Asian population in the hospital looks completely different to the white population," Professor Ewen Harrison of the University of Edinburgh, one of the lead authors, told the BBC.
"They're 12 years younger on average, that's a massive difference, and they tend not to have dementia, obesity or lung disease, but very high levels of diabetes."
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was published as the UK grapples with a Covid-19 death toll of more than 42,000, the third-highest in the world.
A government report published on June 2 noted that patients from black and ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to die, fueling calls for more data and explanations.