Why the Coronavirus More Often Strikes Children of Color

Mainly linked to lower socio-economic status:

One of the notable features of the new coronavirus, evident early in the pandemic, was that it largely spared children. Some become severely ill, but deaths have been few, compared to adults.

But people of color have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and recent studies have renewed concern about the susceptibility of children in these communities.

They are infected at higher rates than white children, and hospitalized at rates five to eight times that of white children. Children of color make up the overwhelming majority of those who develop a life-threatening complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C.

Of more than 180,000 Americans who have died of Covid-19, fewer than 100 are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But children of color comprise the majority of those who have died of Covid-19.

The deaths include 41 Hispanic children, 24 Black children, 19 white children, three Asian-American children, three American Indian/Alaska Native children, and two multiracial children.

The unique vulnerabilities of these youngsters are coming to light even as the number of infections in children is rising and schools and parents around the country are grappling with nettlesome decisions about reopening safely.

The susceptibility of minority children to the disease is not unique to the United States. Black children hospitalized in the United Kingdom were more likely than whites to be transferred to critical care and to develop MIS-C, according to a study published last week in the journal BMJ.

“Children don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Dr. Monika K. Goyal, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington.

Among 1,000 children tested for Covid-19 at a site in Washington in March and April, nearly half of the Hispanic children and nearly one-third of the Black children were positive for the coronavirus, Dr. Goyal found in a recent study.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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