A new study in The Lancet from the University of Oxford found that income is significantly linked to the likelihood of contracting coronavirus, Raw Story reported. In particular, the researchers found that people living in the poorest regions of Britain were over four times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than those living in the richest areas.
The team examined over 3,600 coronavirus test results and found that 29.5 percent of the people living in the poorest areas tested positive for the virus, while just 7.7 percent of those in the wealthier regions were reported to have contracted the virus. In addition, the data revealed that age, chronic liver disease, and deprivation are all linked to an increased likelihood of testing positive for the virus.
Outside of income, people age 40 to 64 were at the highest risk of contracting the virus, and 18.4 percent of men tested positive for the virus, compared to just 13.3 percent of women. Not only that, but 62.1 percent of black Britons tested positive for the virus compared to just 15.5 percent of white Britons — a fourfold difference.
Although the study is limited due to its reliance on test results from routine testing programs, which could mean the demographics tested are not representative of the population, Gayatri Amirthalingam, co-author of the study, believes the data will help in understanding COVID-19.
“This analysis of primary care outcomes of individuals testing positive for virus is an important contribution to our wider understanding of how COVID-19 is affecting people of different demographic groups,” she said.
Despite the limitations, Amirthalingam believes the results suggest a link between coronavirus and income.
“We found an association between increasing deprivation and increased odds of a positive test, independent of household size, urban location, and smoking.”
Rachel Jordan, a researcher from the University of Birmingham, who was not involved in the study, said that the results suggest that coronavirus “exacerbates existing socioeconomic inequalities.”
As reported by CNN, coronavirus is also disproportionately hurting lower-income Americans in terms of job losses. According to a Thursday report from the Federal Reserve Bank, almost 40 percent of Americans with an income below $40,000 reported job loss in March. Conversely, just 19 percent of those with a family income between $40,000 and $100,000 reported a job loss during the same time. For those earning more than $100,000, only 13 percent reported a job loss.
The coronavirus pandemic has sparked conversation around the idea of a universal basic income (UBI), and research into the virus’s link to poverty could lend support for advocates of the proposal, Global News reported.