CDC Data Show Racial, Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Deaths

In the first 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, excess deaths among Black, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) and Latino individuals in the U.S. were more than double those in White and Asian Americans, according to a study published Oct. 5 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Meredith S. Shiels, PhD, MHS, and colleagues, used provisional death certificates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau to estimate the number of excess deaths for March to December 2020 based on the number of deaths expected in 2020 if deaths were the same as in 2019.

The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, estimated excess deaths per 100,000 persons by race/ethnicity, sex, age, month and cause of death. During the study period, an estimated 2.88 million deaths occurred. An estimated 477,2000 excess deaths occurred based on what would have been expected based on 2019 data, with 74% listing COVID-19 as an underlying cause.

Compared with White and Asian males and females, age-standardized COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 persons were at least twofold higher among Black, AI/AN and Latino males and females. Non-COVID-19 excess deaths (per 100,000 persons) were two- to fourfold higher in Black, AI/AN and Latino individuals compared with White individuals, including deaths from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Racial disparities were most pronounced in those 75 years of age and older. In this group, non-COVID-19 excess deaths per 100,000 persons were ninefold higher among Black males compared with White males.

“The disproportionate effect of the pandemic on Black, AI/AN and Latino communities has been devastating and highlights the urgent need to address long-standing structural inequities,” the authors conclude.

Clinical Topics: Vascular Medicine, Sleep Apnea

Keywords: Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S., Cerebrovascular Disorders, Diabetes Mellitus, National Cancer Institute (U.S.), Alzheimer Disease, Cardiovascular Diseases, Minority Health, COVID-19


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