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scientific articles

COVID-19 and African Americans

key information

source: JAMA

year: 2020

authors: Clyde W. Yancy


Much has been published in leading medical journals about the phenomenon of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. The resulting condition, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has had a societal effect comparable only to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. As the flow of clinical science has better informed the contemporary narratives, more is being learned about which individuals and groups experience the most dire complications. Researchers have emphasized older age, male sex, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, concomitant cardiovascular diseases (including coronary artery disease and heart failure), and myocardial injury as important risk factors associated with worse outcomes; specifically, case-fatality rates vary over 100%. These data sourced from China and Europe have not been replicated in the US, but the US experience may nevertheless represent similarly distressing outcomes in these highest-risk phenotypes.

The concerns about these observations are appropriate and the published data are indeed actionable; those who fit the highest-risk phenotypes can be advised to assiduously adhere to safe practices including hand hygiene, use of masks in public spaces, and social distancing/physical isolation. These measures not only are flattening the curve but are no doubt saving lives.

organization: Northwestern University, USA

DOI: 10.1001/jama.2020.6548

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