Minorities bear brunt of US COVID-19 deaths: study

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Black and Hispanic Americans have suffered a much heavier toll from COVID-19 by population size compared with other groups in the U.S., showed an alarming new study by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The findings released Tuesday in Annals of Internal Medicine highlight the urgency to tackle the serious impact of entrenched inequities on health, said Meredith Shiels, a senior investigator at the NCI, who led the study.

Nearly 3 million people died in the United States between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020. Compared with the same period in 2019, that totaled 477,200 excess deaths, with 74 percent of these excess deaths being due to COVID-19, U.S. health information provider HealthDay reported, citing the study.

After age-adjustment, the numbers of excess deaths by population size among Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic men and women were more than double than those in white and Asian Americans, according to the study.

"The excess deaths that occurred during the pandemic have resulted in growing disparities in overall U.S. death rates, with the gap in age-adjusted all-cause deaths increasing between 2019 and 2020 for Black and American Indian/Alaska Native men and women compared with white men and women," said HealthDay.

Resistance to vaccination could be one big contributing factor. "It is (also) possible that fear of seeking out health care during the pandemic or misattribution of causes of death from COVID-19 are responsible for a majority of the excess non-COVID-19 deaths," Shiels told HealthDay.

For the study, the researchers compared excess deaths by race/ethnicity, sex, age group and cause of death from March to December 2020 with data from the same months in 2019. The team used provisional death certificate data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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