Study Shows Devastating Racial Disparities in Healthcare in the US During the Pandemic

Black children were more likely to lose a parent or caregiver because of Covid, and both Black and Latino households were more likely to face economic and health struggles

Black children died of Covid at a rate of about 13.8 per 100,000, the study found, compared with a rate of about 5.1 per 100,000 among White children.
By Ilena Peng
March 14, 2023 | 04:57 PM

Bloomberg — Black children died of Covid-19 at almost three times the rate of White children, according to research that demonstrates the devastating impact racial disparities in the pandemic.

The Covid death rate among Black children was 2.7 higher than among White children, who were more likely to contract the disease overall, according to the two-year study from the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Black and Hispanic kids also required hospitalization at greater rates than White children, the researchers found.

Disparities in health and access to care have long been noted among different racial, ethnic and sexual groups, in association with issues like discrimination and poverty. The study commissioned by the Black Coalition Against Covid, a nationwide health advocacy group, highlights how children can suffer as a result of these stark differences.

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“All of these social and political determinants that had been driving the inequities in health and health status came to play when the pandemic hit,” said Aye Joana Obe, one of the Morehouse researchers on the study. “There were always problems of access for minorities.”

Black children died of Covid at a rate of about 13.8 per 100,000, the study found, compared with a rate of about 5.1 per 100,000 among White children. About 23% of children hospitalized with severe Covid cases were Black, and 51% were Hispanic, according to the study.

Lower vaccination rates among Black kids may have played a role: Just over 40% of Black children received two or more doses of Covid vaccine, compared with nearly 44% across all children older than 5 years, the study found.

Black children were also more likely to lose a parent or caregiver because of Covid, and both Black and Latino households were more likely to face economic and health struggles. Crowded, multi-generational homes may have also made it difficult for infected people to isolate, said Obe, a legal research fellow at Morehouse’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute.

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“There is an interconnect between each and every one of these issues,” Obe said. “And we cannot isolate one single issue or one block of facts as the cause behind the disparities in cases and hospitalizations.”

--With assistance from John Lauerman

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