Drs. Mary T. Bassett, Nancy Krieger, and Jarvis T. Chen, faculty members of the Department Social and Behavioral Sciences, have recently authored a new working paper, “The unequal toll of COVID-19 mortality by age in the United States: Quantifying racial/ethnic disparities”, published by the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. The study has been featured in Vox.
How do COVID-19 mortality rates vary by age across US racial/ethnic groups?
In all age strata, COVID-19 mortality rates were higher for racial/ethnic minorities compared to whites, with extremely high rate ratios (5-9-fold higher) among younger adults (24-54 years) more than 3 times the age-standardized rate ratio. More years of potential life lost were experienced by African Americans and Latinos than whites, although the white population is 3-4 fold larger.
Extreme variations in age-specific mortality are obscured by age standardization. Inspection of age-specific mortality rates is crucial to understanding the disparate impact of COVID-19 on racial/ethnic minorities.