University of Alabama at Birmingham Study Finds Racial Geographic Differences in COVID Mortality

A new study published by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham presents data that shows Black individuals have a disproportionately higher COVID-19 mortality burden across all of the United States, which is driven by a high incidence of COVID-19 infection. They found that there are key geographic differences in the distribution of health determinants and in the COVID mortality patterns.

Researchers found that Black individuals in the United States have a higher prevalence of comorbidities and poor socioeconomic conditions. Both Black and White individuals living in the Southern and Midwestern regions of the United States have a higher prevalence of these health determinants. The researchers found that Black individuals have a three-times-higher likelihood of COVID-19 infection and twofold higher crude mortality. They also noted that the infection fatality, the ratio of COVID-19 deaths among those who are infected with COVID-19, was similar between Black and White individuals.

“COVID-19 is a serious condition that has disproportionately impacted minority populations with key geographic differences within them,” said senior author Pankaj Arora, a physician-scientist in Division of Cardiovascular Disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “The persistent racial disparities in health care, as underlined by our study, may predispose Black individuals to bear a hefty share of the COVID-19 pandemic. These important findings may help inform public health policy not just during the pandemic but also in its aftermath so that we can help address some important and persisting health disparities.”

The full study, “Geographic Variation of Racial Disparities in Health and COVID-19 Mortality,” was published on the website of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes. It may be accessed here.

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