Racial/ethnic disparities in exposure to COVID-19, susceptibility to COVID-19 and access to health care - findings from a U.S. national cohort

medRxiv. 2022 Jan 12;2022.01.11.22269101. doi: 10.1101/2022.01.11.22269101. Preprint


We examined the influence of racial/ethnic differences in socioeconomic position on COVID-19 seroconversion and hospitalization within a community-based prospective cohort enrolled in March 2020 and followed through October 2021 (N=6740). The ability to social distance as a measure of exposure to COVID-19, susceptibility to COVID-19 complications, and access to healthcare varied by race/ethnicity with non-white participants having more exposure risk and more difficulty with healthcare access than white participants. Participants with more (versus less) exposure had greater odds of seroconversion (aOR:1.64, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 1.18-2.29). Participants with more susceptibility and more barriers to healthcare had greater odds of hospitalization (respective aOR:2.36; 1.90-2.96 and 2.31; 1.69-2.68). Race/ethnicity positively modified the association between susceptibility and hospitalization (aORnon-White:2.79, 2.06-3.78). Findings may explain the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 infections and complications among Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black persons. Primary and secondary prevention efforts should address disparities in exposure, COVID-19 vaccination, and treatment.

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