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Coronavirus, race and income: How the virus discriminates

Does COVID-19 discriminate?AFP
Does COVID-19 discriminate?
After COVID-19 first appeared in China late last year, doctors quickly realised what made some patients more vulnerable to the virus than others: age, gender and underlying health problems all played a part.

Now, as the pandemic kills hundreds across the world each day, experts say evidence is mounting that other socioeconomic factors -- specifically connected to race and income -- influence who become sick and who dies.
what do stats sayGetty Images
what do stats say
Officials in Europe and the US have insisted that COVID-19 doesn't discriminate. But the figures suggest otherwise.

A slew of recent studies have highlighted how people from minority backgrounds in Britain and the United States -- two of the hardest hit nations -- are disproportionately more likely to die from COVID-19 than their white counterparts.

Research printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association this month found that COVID-19 mortality was "substantially higher" among black and Latino patients than in white patients.
Deprivation a key factorAFP
Deprivation a key factor
Age-adjusted black mortality in New York City was more than twice as high as white, a trend backed up by another study carried out by Britain's Institute of Fiscal Studies.

That found that black Britons were 2.5 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than their white compatriots.

In addition, several studies suggest that deprivation is a key determinant in COVID-19 cases.
"A two-tiered system"AFP
"A two-tiered system"
Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh Medical School, said that a lack of preparedness when the pandemic struck exposed "a two-tiered system" in Britain's response to the virus.

"If we look back to March -- which is astounding -- if you were networked enough and rich enough you could go and purchase a COVID test, just if you were curious if you had it or not," she told AFP.
The divideAFP
The divide
In Sweden, which has gone against the grain of strict lockdown procedures, the Public Health Agency reported this month that Somali-born residents were over-represented among those hospitalised with COVID-19.

Poorer areas of Stockholm -- where many migrants live -- have seen up to three times as many cases per capita as wealthier areas.

Within Britain's health service, several studies suggest that BAME doctors and nurses may be the victims of systemic discrimination.
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