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USA: Black adult hospitalisations reached a pandemic high during the omicron wave, CDC study finds

During the peak of the omicron variant wave of the coronavirus this winter, Black adults in the United States were hospitalised at rates higher than at any moment in the pandemic, according to a report published last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Black adults were four times as likely to be hospitalised compared with White adults during the height of the omicron variant surge, which started in mid-December and continued through January, the report said. In January, the CDC found, hospitalisation rates for Black patients reached the highest level for any racial or ethnic group since the dawn of the pandemic.

As the highly transmissible omicron variant usurped the delta variant’s dominance, people who were unvaccinated were 12 times more likely to be hospitalised than those who were vaccinated and boosted against the coronavirus, according to the report.

And fewer Black adults had been immunised compared with White adults, said the report, which analysed hospitalization rates in 99 counties in 14 states. 

Teresa Y. Smith saw evidence of the phenomenon outlined in the CDC’s report as she treated patients as an emergency physician at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn.

She has felt the crush of the pandemic’s unequal impact since the pre-vaccine waves but has contended with the consequences of health disparities for much longer. Her hospital sits in a heavily Black and Latino borough, where — as in so many communities of color across the country — social, political, economic and environmental factors erode health and shorten lives.

In December, she watched as the number of cases and admissions resulting from the omicron variant “just exploded in a short, short amount of time,” saying then, “there is no subtlety to it.” And while the vaccinated patients she treated were less likely to be “lethally sick,” many still needed to be admitted to the hospital.

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Source: The Washington Post, 18 March 2022



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