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Black women die from COVID at higher rates than white men

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By Robert Preidt

HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY April 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) – COVID-19 death rates significantly higher among black American women than white men, new study finds, suggesting race is a factor in differences in survival between men and women.

Researchers analyzed COVID death rates in Michigan and Georgia, the only states to report data by age, race and sex.

“This analysis complicates the simple narrative that men die at higher rates of COVID-19 than women,” said lead author Tamara Rushovich, doctoral candidate in population health sciences at the University Harvard.

Analysis from Harvard’s GenderSci Lab found that COVID death rates among black women are nearly four times higher than those of white men; three times higher than for Asian men; and also higher than for white and Asian women.

COVID death rates among black men are far higher than any other sex and racial group – including more than six times higher than for white men.

The difference in death rates between black and white women is more than three times that between white men and white women, according to the study.

And the difference in death rates between black men and black women is greater than the disparity between white men and white women.

The results were published on April 5 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

While it is of course understood that racism and social inequalities, and not genetics, are responsible for the racial disparities in COVID deaths, many researchers are focusing on the differences in biology to explain the gender differences in death rate, the authors noted.

They said theirs was the first study to quantify differences in COVID deaths by race and gender.

The results show that the common belief that men with COVID perform worse than women varies in magnitude across social groups defined by race / ethnicity. They also point out that societal factors related to gender in combination with racism and economic status are important, the researchers said.

More information

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on racial and ethnic disparities surrounding COVID-19.

SOURCE: Harvard University, press release, April 6, 2021

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