Black individuals more likely to test positive for COVID-19

Black individuals at higher risk for contracting COVID-19.


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According to a new study, black individuals were twice as likely as White individuals to test positive for COVID-19.

This is not the first study that examined race. Although it does provides further evidence that while anyone can get COVID-19, the race is indeed a factor in the extent to which some populations are affected.

Of the 4413 individuals tested, 17.8 percent tested positive. Of those who tested positive, 78.9 percent were Black, while 9.6 percent were White. The average age of all participants in the study was 46. However, those infected were, on average, 52 years old, compared to those who tested negative, who was 45 years old on average.

Study author Ayodeji Adegunsoye, MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, sees logic in the results of the analysis as it relates to the infection rates along racial lines: “I think this amplifies how pre-existing socioeconomic and health care disparities affect outcomes in the population. We already know that the common comorbidities that have been associated with COVID, such as hypertension and diabetes disproportionately affect the Black community. So, it wasn’t too surprising that COVID-19 seemed to affect Black individuals as well more commonly.”

“Also, given that Black individuals are overly represented in the service industry, and therefore more likely to be essential workers, their risk of exposure to COVID-19 is greater: Even during precautionary lockdowns to reduce spread, these jobs were often deemed essential services, and included jobs such as bus drivers, janitors, city sanitation workers, hospital food production personnel, security guards, etc. so it wasn’t too surprising that Black people were disproportionately infected and subsequently hospitalized with the virus.”

“The results showing that the individuals who tested positive were older than their counterparts who tested negative is consistent with reports of infection rates in the U.S. and elsewhere. We have observed that for various reasons, older individuals are more likely to develop severe symptoms when they get infected, and therefore, they are more likely to get tested for COVID-19.”

“It’s a vicious cycle of sorts, as older people are more likely to have hypertension and other comorbid diseases, which further increase the risk for hospitalization with COVID. Even after accounting for their older age, Black patients were still at significantly increased risk of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization.”

Results of an analysis published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.


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