Long Covid May Become a Crisis for Black Americans, Experts Say

Black Americans were overrepresented in essential-worker positions, which increased the risk of exposure to the virus, the authors write. And they were also more likely than white Americans to live in multigenerational homes or crowded spaces, be incarcerated, or live in densely populated areas.

Many Black Americans who contracted the coronavirus experienced serious illness because of pre-existing conditions like obesity, hypertension and chronic kidney disease, which themselves were often the result of “differential access to high-quality care and health promoting resources,” the report says.

The authorization of the first coronavirus vaccines was seen by many experts as a light at the end of the tunnel, but new disparities emerged, driven by both vaccine hesitancy and limited access to the shots.

Though the gap in vaccinations has since narrowed — 80 percent of Black Americans were fully vaccinated as of January, compared with 83 percent of white Americans, the report says — disparities persist.

“We understand that there remains unfinished work yet to do to save and protect our communities from the Covid-19 pandemic,” wrote Dr. Reed Tuckson, who in April 2020 co-founded the Black Coalition Against Covid.

And when it comes to unfinished work, long Covid is top of mind.

“So much of even getting a long Covid diagnosis is tied to having had a positive test right at the beginning,” said Dr. Nunez-Smith, adding that early on in the pandemic, many Black Americans “weren’t able to secure a test and in some cases, were denied testing.”

She emphasized the importance of investing adequate resources into studying long Covid. “Like everything else, without intentionality, we’re not going to get to equity there,” she said.

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