The Perfect Enemy | Study: POC have higher COVID mortality rate
February 22, 2024

University of Minnesota researchers analyzed pandemic mortality data and found Black, Asian, and Hispanic populations had higher mortality rates than white people.

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota published a new study that shows Black, Hispanic, and Asian communities are significantly more likely to die of COVID-19, despite being vaccinated at higher rates than white communities. 

“There is no question that communities of color continue to be hit the hardest at every stage of this pandemic,” said JP Leider, director of the Center for Public Health Systems in the School of Public Health and an author of the study.

Leider worked with Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. They examined death certificates dating back to 2020. They found roughly 13,000 listing COVID-19 as the cause of death.

The researchers found:

  • Black, Hispanic and Asian adults under age 65 in Minnesota were more highly vaccinated than white populations of the same age group.
  • During the delta period (July 2021-Dec. 2021) and omicron period (Jan. 2022-April 2022), white mortality rates were significantly lower than those of all other groups.
  • In Black, Hispanic and Asian populations, COVID-19 mortality at ages 55-64 was greater than white mortality at ages 65-74. Since COVID-19 mortality risk rises sharply with age, this comparison underscores the high mortality rates in middle-aged populations of color, despite their relatively high vaccination rates.

“Even with lower vaccination rates, white Minnesotans have lower COVID-19 mortality rates than BIPOC Minnesotans with higher vaccination rates. That’s not biology — that’s society,” Leider said. 

Leider thanks the Minnesota Department of Health and other government agencies that provided the information they studied. He said not every state is transparent with this data. 

“Some states don’t publish this information,” Wrigley-Field said. 

The data studied only included information on death certificates. Researchers didn’t have access to health history and say further research needs to be conducted to find out how these disparities are present. 

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control released numbers that show white communities are surpassing Black communities in COVID mortality rates. 

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