Background: Higher incidence of and risk of hospitalisation and death from Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 during the 2009 pandemic was reported in ethnic minority groups in many high-income settings including in the United Kingdom (UK). Many of these studies rely on geographical and temporal aggregation of cases and can be difficult to interpret due to the spatial and temporal factors in outbreak spread. Further, it can be challenging to distinguish between disparities in health outcomes caused by variation in transmission risk or disease severity.
Methods: We used anonymised laboratory confirmed and suspected case data, classified by ethnicity and deprivation status, to evaluate how disparities in risk between socio-economic and ethnic groups vary over the early stages of the 2009 Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 epidemic in Birmingham and London, two key cities in the emergence of the UK epidemic. We evaluated the relative risk of infection in key ethnic minority groups and by national and city level deprivation rank.
Results: We calculated higher incidence in more deprived areas and in people of South Asian ethnicity in both Birmingham and London, although the magnitude of these disparities reduced with time. The clearest disparities existed in school-aged children in Birmingham, where the most deprived fifth of the population was 2.8 times more likely to be infected than the most affluent fifth of the population.
Conclusions: Our analysis shows that although disparities in reported cases were present in the early phase of the Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 outbreak in both Birmingham and London, they vary substantially depending on the period over which they are measured. Further, the development of disparities suggest that clustering of social groups play a key part as the outbreak appears to move from one ethnic and socio-demographic group to another. Finally, high incidence and large disparities between children indicate that they may hold an important role in driving inequalities.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information: The authors thank Public Health England for allowing and coordinating access to the data through a student contract for JDM. The authors also thank Dr. Hongxin Zhao who carried out the ethnicity classification using ONOMAP. Finally, the authors thank Dr. Petra Klepac and Prof. Mark Jit for their insights early in the development of the work.
JDM, AJvH and KEA were funded for this work by the NIHR HPRU in immunisation (NIHR200929). RP received no funding for this work.
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Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s).
Citation: Munday, J.D., Pebody, R., Atkins, K.E. et al. Changing socio-economic and ethnic disparities in influenza/A/H1N1 infection early in the 2009 UK epidemic: a descriptive analysis. BMC Infect Dis 21, 1243 (2021).