A new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows the stark toll the COVID-19 pandemic took on black and Hispanic Americans .
Researchers at found that excess deaths among black and Hispanic people during the pandemic last year were two to three times higher than that of white people.
While a majority of these deaths were from Covid, many were also from ancillary causes such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
The data show the stark racial gap caused by the pandemic and how some communities more affected than others.
Black and Hispanic Americans suffered more excess deaths in from Covid and non-Covid causes than their white and Asian counterparts. Men were also more likely to suffer an excess death than women, NCI researchers find
All Covid deaths count as excess deaths because the virus was not recorded in the United States in 2019. Excess deaths from the virus account for nearly 75% of excess deaths from March to December last year
Researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the NIH, gathered death data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from March to December 2020.
They found that during that time period last year, there were 2.88 million deaths, with 477,200 being classified as excess deaths.
Almost three out of every four of the excess deaths was because of Covid, according to the findings published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Excess deaths are calculated by finding the amount of deaths that occurred over a time period by each cause of death compared to the amount over that period in the previous year.
Since COVID-19 had not yet reached the U.S. in 2019, all Covid deaths during the study period are considered excess deaths.
Not all excess deaths were from the virus, however, because the pandemic caused some ancillary deaths due to some people skipping medical treatment and a lack of available medical resources to treat some people.
The team found that there was an increase in excess deaths across all ethnicities, and among both men and women.
Men who are either black or Hispanic suffered the most excess deaths and there are massive disparities.
The researchers found that there were nearly 400 excess deaths per every 100,000 black men in America last year, compared to around 125 per every 100,000 white men – a three-fold difference.
Researchers also found that more than 300 excess deaths occurred for every 100,000 Hispanic men, more than double that of white men.
White and Asian women suffered less than 100 excess deaths per every 100,000 in the American population, compared to over 200 for black women and over 150 for Hispanic women.
Black people also suffered the most non-Covid excess deaths, with more than 100 per every 100,000 occurring for men and over 50 for women.
Covid still accounted for more than half of excess deaths among every demographic.
These non-Covid deaths are still important to consider from a public health perspective, though.
‘Focusing on COVID-19 deaths alone without examining total excess deaths—that is, deaths due to non-COVID-19 causes as well as to COVID-19—may underestimate the true impact of the pandemic,’ said Dr Meredith Shiels, senior investigator in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch in NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics and leader of the study, in a statement.
‘These data highlight the profound impact of long-standing inequities.’
Researchers believe the way to close the gap in excess deaths is with a robust testing and vaccine strategy that can help minority communities.
Source: Health & wellbeing | The Guardian