Since the beginning of the pandemic, Covid has disproportionately impacted people around the world, and the United States is one of them.
Many studies have shown higher Covid infection rates, hospitalization rates and death rates in non-white Americans.
For example, the COVID Racial Data Tracker at the COVID Tracking Project discovered that during the first year of the pandemic, black, Native American, Hispanic, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Americans all had much higher Covid death rates than white Americans.
A new CDC study published in JAMA Network Open adds to the evidence that non-white Americans are at an increased risk of severe Covid illness.
The CDC researchers analyzed data from COVID-NET, a CDC surveillance system that includes hospitals in 99 U.S. counties, accounting for around 10% of the national population.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Utah are among the 14 states covered by the system.
The CDC researchers included approximately 143,000 patients in their analysis.
Between March 1, 2020, and February 28, 2021, all of the patients were hospitalized with a lab-confirmed Covid case.
The study found that non-white people in the US are more at risk of developing severe Covid than white Americans – with hospitalization up to four times more likely.
Native Americans had the highest rate of hospitalization, with around 1,063 per 100,000.
This is 3.7 times greater than the white American hospitalization rate of 288 per 100,000 persons.
Native Americans also had the highest death rate, with 233 fatalities per 100,000 people, which is 7.2 times higher than white Americans, who had 32 deaths per 100,000 people.
Latino Americans had the second-highest hospitalization rate, with 879 per 100,000 individuals, which was 3.1 times higher than white Americans.
The CDC researchers also discovered that Latino Americans had the greatest Covid hospitalization rate for children under the age of 18, with 57 hospitalizations per 100,000 children.
This is nearly four times the Covid hospitalization rate for white children, which is 15 hospitalizations per 100,000 children.
The team also found that hospitalization rates soared with age across all race and ethnicity groups – but people of color remained to have higher hospitalization rates than white people.
Native Americans had the highest incidence of Covid hospitalization among seniors and adults aged 18 to 64.
“During every month, the highest age-adjusted hospitalization rates occurred among American Indian or Alaska Native, Latino, and Black persons,” the researchers noted.
This held true for all three Covid surges that occurred in 2020: spring, summer, and winter.
The researchers also discovered that Native American, Latino, and black Covid patients were more likely to need urgent care or to die in the hospital.
“American Indian or Alaska Native, Latino, Black, and Asian or Pacific Islander persons were significantly more likely to be hospitalized, receive ICU care, or die with COVID-19–associated illness compared with White persons,” the researchers added.
“These disparities were present across all age groups and persisted during the entire 12-month surveillance period.”
The study also revealed that Asians and Pacific Islanders have “modestly higher rates of hospitalization, ICU admission, and in-hospital death compared with white persons”.
However, integrating Asians and Pacific Islanders into one category may pose a problem in data analysis, according to the researchers, because some studies have revealed that Pacific Islanders are more at risk than other Asian groups.
Non-white Americans suffer elevated Covid risk for a variety of reasons, according to the researchers, including work in key jobs, poverty, unstable housing, a lack of transportation, and multigenerational housing.
“Importantly, members of racial and ethnic minority groups face inequity due to structural racism,” according to the study authors, “with its many downstream consequences on overall health, including poor access to health care and economic instability.”
According to the researchers, racial and ethnic minority groups should be prioritized for Covid vaccination and other prophylactic steps in order to solve this issue.
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