Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Outpatient Treatment of COVID-19 - United States, January-July 2022

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022 Oct 28;71(43):1359-1365. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7143a2.


In December 2021 and early 2022, four medications received emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration for outpatient treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe disease; these included nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) and molnupiravir (Lagevrio) (both oral antivirals), expanded use of remdesivir (Veklury; an intraveneous antiviral), and bebtelovimab (a monoclonal antibody [mAb]).* Reports have documented disparities in mAb treatment by race and ethnicity (1) and in oral antiviral treatment by zip code-level social vulnerability (2); however, limited data are available on racial and ethnic disparities in oral antiviral treatment. Using electronic health record (EHR) data from 692,570 COVID-19 patients aged ≥20 years who sought medical care during January-July 2022, treatment with Paxlovid, Lagevrio, Veklury, and mAbs was assessed by race and ethnicity, overall and among high-risk patient groups. During 2022, the percentage of COVID-19 patients seeking medical care who were treated with Paxlovid increased from 0.6% in January to 20.2% in April and 34.3% in July; the other three medications were used less frequently (0.7%-5.0% in July). During April-July 2022, when Paxlovid use was highest, compared with White patients, Black or African American (Black) patients were prescribed Paxlovid 35.8% less often, multiple or other race patients 24.9% less often, American Indian or Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (AIAN/NHOPI) patients 23.1% less often, and Asian patients 19.4% less often; Hispanic patients were prescribed Paxlovid 29.9% less often than non-Hispanic patients. Racial and ethnic disparities in Paxlovid treatment were generally somewhat higher among patients at high risk for severe COVID-19, including those aged ≥50 years and those who were immunocompromised. The expansion of programs focused on equitable awareness of and access to outpatient COVID-19 treatments, as well as COVID-19 vaccination, including updated bivalent booster doses, can help protect persons most at risk for severe illness and facilitate equitable health outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Humans
  • Outpatients
  • United States / epidemiology


  • molnupiravir
  • bebtelovimab
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Antiviral Agents