COVID-19 and Black America: Disparities in Outcomes, Treatment and Healthcare
While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought racial disparities in healthcare to the attention of healthcare professionals and the general public, many of us have ourselves or have had friends and family members directly experience the disparity in the COVID access, care, and treatment. Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Indigenous people. Black Americans are especially at risk, being 1.1 times more likely to get infected with COVID, 2.3 times more likely to be hospitalized and 1.7 times more likely to die from COVID-19 when compared with their white counterparts.
These minority groups are more likely to experience more severe COVID-19 outcomes because they suffer from a greater amount of chronic comorbid conditions, such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, Asthma, and more, leaving their immune systems more at risk for poorer outcomes.
Disparities in Access
Due to several factors including access to vaccination sites, lack of reliable transportation, lack of medical trust, education and employment, minority groups are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
As of April 2022, Black Americans make up 10% of people who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination, compared to 12% of the total population. It is reported that 44% of Black Americans received their first booster dose once eligible, while 56% have not.
The COVID-19 vaccination is safe. All eligible Americans are encouraged to get their vaccinations and booster shots as soon as possible to protect the health and wellbeing of their community.
Disparities in Treatment
While research into COVID-19 treatment disparities are ongoing, there is clearly unequal access to certain methods of treating the virus. For example, Black patients received monoclonal antibody treatment 22.4% less often than their white counterparts, even though research shows that monoclonal antibody treatment is very effective at treating mild to moderate cases of COVID. If Black communities are being struck the hardest by COVID-19 infections, then the treatment rates should reflect this. We are still seeing White people getting better access to these treatments.
Other studies have shown that lifesaving COVID-19 treatments were significantly delayed for Black and other darker-complexioned patients, due to faulty and inaccurate readings from pulse-oximeters. It is known that these devices meant to measure your oxygen intake level are not as effective in detecting low-oxygen levels in patients with darker skin. As a result, many of the severe symptoms went unnoticed. Black and Hispanic patients received treatments such as Remdesivir or Dexamethasone much later than their White counterparts, and in some cases, Black or Hispanic patients did not receive the treatment at all.