In a recent study, it has been found that non-white, Covid-19 patients, are more likely to develop more severe cases of the illness. According to radiologist Dr. Efren J. Flores, co-founder of the study, who works at the Massachusetts General Hospital, “It got to the point where half of our patient population admitted with COVID-19 were underrepresented minorities [in our local population].”
After analyzing data from 326 Covid-19 patients and examining their chest X-Rays, the result became clear: non-white patients coming from lower socioeconomic groups were more likely to be put in ICUs and die.
There is a multitude of reasons that contribute to this phenomenon. On its own, the virus can affect anyone. António Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, said, “The virus does not discriminate, but its impacts do, exposing deep weaknesses in the delivery of public services and structural inequalities that impede access to them.”
It leaves the people with low-wage jobs more prone to severe cases of the disease because they have limited sick leaves and health care benefits from their employers. The authors of the study pointed out that Blacks, Hispanics, and people from other ethnic minorities were more likely to have these kinds of jobs. Dr. Flores noted that these people tend to refrain from going to the hospital, due to the fact that they live on a weekly paycheck and have other dependents.
The authors also observed that the patients in these groups usually live in overcrowded, high-density urban areas that make social distancing more difficult.
Another underlying socioeconomic factor that the authors have found is limited English proficiency. As the new health information regarding Covid-19 was only available in English during the first few months, non-English-speaking individuals had trouble going through the complex medical system.
Lastly, the institutional racism that many of these people have previously experienced resulted in distrust in the medical system. It leads to them not seeking care until the disease becomes severe.
These healthcare problems experienced by the non-white people have already been present way before the pandemic, but the situation exposed and amplified them further.
Source: Medical News Today