(HealthDay News) — Racial and ethnic disparities in excess mortality increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Meredith S. Shiels, PhD, from the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues conducted a surveillance study to estimate excess deaths by racial/ethnic group in the United States from March to December 2020.

The researchers found that between March and December 2020, there were an estimated 2.88 million deaths. Compared with the number of deaths expected based on 2019 data, during this period, there were 477,200 excess deaths, 74% of which were attributed to COVID-19. Among Black, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN), and Latino individuals, the age-standardized excess deaths per 100,000 persons were more than double those seen for White and Asian individuals. Black, AI/AN, and Latino persons were also disproportionately affected by non-COVID-19 excess deaths. Non-COVID-19 excess deaths per 100,000 persons were 2 to 4 times higher in Black, AI/AN, and Latino individuals compared with White individuals, including deaths due to diabetes, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and Alzheimer disease. From 2019 to 2020, the investigators noted a widening of racial/ethnic disparities in all-cause mortality resulting from excess deaths in 2020.

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“The disproportionate effect of the pandemic on Black, AI/AN, and Latino communities has been devastating and highlights the urgent need to address long-standing structural inequities,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text