White people are now more likely to die from Covid than Black people in a reversal of earlier trends, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Early in the pandemic, Covid deaths were concentrated in dense urban areas, where Black people died at a much higher rate than whites.
But the trend reversed by October 2021 as the death rate of white people exceeded those of other groups.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that the racial disparity had disappeared by the end of 2021.
At times, the age-adjusted death rate for white people surpassed that of Black and Latino people.
Trends turn political:
At first, cities faced a disproportionate rate of spread and tended to have higher rates of vulnerable communities. Cumulatively, Black, Latino and Native American people are 60% more likely to die of Covid.
By summer 2021, pandemic deaths dropped as vaccines became more widespread. But amid the Delta wave and waning immunity, the anti-vax movement picked up.
After Delta’s peak in September 2021, Black deaths declined but white deaths never relented, steadily increasing until the rate surpassed that of Black deaths.
“Usually, when we say a health disparity is disappearing, what we mean is that … the worse-off group is getting better,” Tasleem Padamsee, an assistant professor at Ohio State University, told the Post. “We don’t usually mean that the group that had a systematic advantage got worse.”
The changing trends have “vastly different implications for public health interventions,” Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the outlet. Officials must figure out how to connect “communities who are ideologically opposed to the vaccine” while contending with “the cumulative impact of injustice” on communities of color.
“Think about the fact that everyone who is age 57 and older in this country was born when Jim Crow was legal,” she said. “What that did was intersect with covid-19, meaning that embodied history is part of this pandemic, too.”