It has long been clear that Black Americans have experienced high rates of coronavirus infection, hospitalisation and death throughout the pandemic.
But those factors are now leading experts to sound the alarm about what will may come next: a prevalence of Long Covid in the Black community and a lack of access to treatment.
Long Covid — with chronic symptoms like fatigue, cognitive problems and others that linger for months after an acute coronavirus infection has cleared up — has perplexed researchers, and many are working hard to find a treatment for people experiencing it. But health experts warn that crucial data is missing: Black Americans have not been sufficiently included in Long-Covid trials, treatment programmes and registries, according to the authors of a new report released on Tuesday.
“We expect there are going to be greater barriers to access the resources and services available for Long Covid,” said one of the authors, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who is the director of Yale University’s health equity office and a former chair of President Biden’s health equity task force.
“The pandemic isn’t over, it isn’t over for anyone,” Dr. Nunez-Smith said. “But the reality is, it’s certainly not over in Black America.”
In the first three months of the pandemic, the average weekly case rate per 100,000 Black Americans was 36.2, compared with 12.5 for white Americans, the authors write. The Black hospitalisation rate was 12.6 per 100,000 people, compared with 4 per 100,000 for white people, and the death rate was also higher: 3.6 per 100,000 compared with 1.8 per 100,000.
“The severity of Covid-19 among Black Americans was the predictable result of structural and societal realities, not differences in genetic predisposition.”
"Many Black Americans who contracted the coronavirus experienced serious illness because of pre-existing conditions like obesity, hypertension and chronic kidney disease, which themselves were often the result of “differential access to high-quality care and health promoting resources,” the report says.
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Source: New York Times, 29 March 2022