Health Care

COVID-19 kills far more Hispanic and Black children than white youths

Children from ethnic and racial minorities, those with underlying medical conditions, and in this age group, those between the ages of 18 and 20 are more likely to die from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19.

The report, published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examined 121 coronavirus-related deaths between February 12 and July 31 in people younger than 21. The federal agency collected the data from health departments across the country. Previous studies have found that the virus's death toll is twice as high among people of color under age 65 as for white Americans.

The racial disparities among children are in some ways more stark than of those in adults. "45 per cent were Hispanic persons, 29 per cent were non-Hispanic Black (Black) persons, and 4 per cent were non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) persons", the report said. Children and teens may seem to be at a lower risk of death from the viral infection. "What that should mean for people is steps like wearing a mask are not just about protecting your family and yourself".

Medical workers, public health officials and politicians have pointed out salient racial inequities during the pandemic for months.

"Health communications campaigns could encourage patients, particularly those with underlying medical conditions, to seek medical care earlier in their illnesses", the CDC said.

Three-quarters of the deaths involved people with at least one underlying condition including chronic lung disease, asthma, obesity, neurologic and developmental conditions, and cardiovascular conditions. However, that was based on three stillbirths in the study group - a small number that calls for caution in interpreting the results, Kharbanda said.

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Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says the results are not unexpected. "At the same time, proportions at which minority groups are dying are hard to ignore".

"There's very big disparities in the availability of health care for minority people".

The CDC report also points to "disparities in social determinants of health, such as crowded living conditions, food and housing insecurity, wealth and educational gaps, and racial discrimination", as contributing factors in racial health inequities. The report also points to social disparities that puts communities of color at greater risk. Similarly, Haemophilus influenzae type b (also known as Hib) was known to disproportionately affect Native Americans.

The administration has consistently emphasized the need for children to return to in-person learning at schools.

CDC's report reinforces another prominent characteristic of the virus-that as one gets older, it becomes increasingly lethal.

The deaths - almost half of which occurred among those ages 18 to 20 - represent a small fraction of the 391,814 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 or MIS-C in that age group during that time frame. That report only includes cases defined by the states as "pediatric" - an age that varies from state to state, and in some states, cuts off at 17.

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