Note from BW of Brazil: In the United States, there’s an old saying that says when white folks catch a cold, black folks get pneumonia. It’s a pretty simply saying that basically confirms that socially, when white people experience hard times, it is infinitely worse for black people due to historical inequalities based on and aggravated by racial discrimination. The spread of the so-called coronavirus, or Covid-19, is simply the latest proof of this.
According to the latest data, African-American communities are being devastated by the pandemic. A few days ago, I read a series of articles speaking of the African-American community in four US cities, New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Milwaukee and my hometown of Detroit. According to data that has been divulged, almost 3,300 of the 13,000 deaths due to complications associated with coronavirus up to that point, around 42% were black. In the areas considered for the study, African-Americans accounted for 21% of these populations.
Upon coming across this information, my first thought was, is this apparent rate of death due to the usual suspects, ie, poverty, lack of health care, unemployment and diseases that affect black people more than others, or is there something more sinister going on here? For example, looking back at the infamous Project for a New American Century document under the George W. Bush Administation and we come across a scenario in which “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes.” You would think that since black populations aren’t only ones dying from Covid-19 the possibility of the use of biological warfare wouldn’t be applicable, but are we certain of this?
Anyway, the effects of Covid-19 in Brazil are nowhere near as devastating as what we are seeing in the US. This is not to minimize any of the casualties; any death from this pandemic is devastating for any family affected by it. I recently got news that a friend of a friend’s mother recently passed away and it appears that her death was due to Covid-19. I say appears because, one, numerous reports are questioning the accuracy of Covid-19 tests, and two, I don’t know if the deceased had any pre-existing chronic illness which is showing to drastically increase a Covid-19 patient’s likelihood of death. I do know that she was in her 80s, an age range that is far more critical when considering the risk of death.
In just considering the numbers, in terms of the virus, it seems to be far safer being Brazil than in the United States right now. According to the latest reports, there are nearly 1.7 million cases of coronavirus in the worls, with more than 102 thousand deaths. Nearly 503 thousand of these cases are in the US alone, with nearly 19,000 deaths. In other words, the US has more than 29% of the cases and 17% of the deaths around the world. In comparison, Brazil has a reported 20,000 cases with about 1,100 deaths. In other words, Brazil has only 3% of the cases the US has and only 5% of the deaths. That’s good news for Brazil.
On the other hand, there is still fear that the worst is yet to come. Already one fear that is being confirmed with recent data concerns how the racial aspect of the virus is playing out in Brazil. Check the report below…
Blacks die more from coronavirus in Brazil
Health most vulnerable to covid-19 stems from poor living conditions caused by inequality
By Ricardo Ribeiro with additional information from Correio 24 Horas
Covid-19, the coronavirus disease, is more lethal among blacks than among whites. This is what a survey by the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper shows, using data from the Ministry of Health, published on Friday (10).
Pretos (blacks) and pardos (browns) are 23.1% of those hospitalized with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, but they reach 32.8% of those killed by Covid-19. With whites, it is the opposite and there are fewer deaths than hospitalized: 73.9% of the total patients, but 64.5% of the deaths.
Although minority among the records of those affected by the disease, pretos and pardos represent almost 1 in 4 of Brazilians hospitalized with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (23.1%) but they make up 1 in 3 among those killed by Covid-19 (32.8%).
With whites, the opposite is true: there are 73.9% among those hospitalized with Covid-19, but 64.5% among the dead.
The difference of almost ten percentage points between blacks hospitalized and blacks killed by the Covid-19 draws the attention of medical authorities. “If the chances of death from the disease don’t depend on race or color, there is something wrong, another influence on this result, be it the type of treatment offered, or some other comorbidity that black people have,” points out Denize Ornelas, director of the Society Brazilian Family and Community Medicine.
“The pandemic initially hit a population with very favorable conditions and was tough even on this group of white, wealthy people with broad access to health (care). It is frightening to think about its effects on the black population, which has terrible living conditions and associated comorbidities,” said social worker Lúcia Xavier, director of the black women’s NGO Criola, interviewed for this report.
According to the Brazilian Society of Family and Community Medicine, 67% of Brazilians who depend exclusively on SUS (Unified Health System) are black (pretos and pardos), and these are also the majority of patients with diabetes, tuberculosis, hypertension and chronic kidney diseases in the country — all considered to be aggravating factors for the development of covid-19’s most severe conditions.
These are diseases that arise linked to social and racial inequalities, such as precarious housing conditions, lack of basic sanitation, deficient employment, subsistence and poor food.
“These socioeconomic conditions are creating greater health vulnerability that will weigh heavily during the pandemic,” said Lúcia Xavier.
The difference in lethality between whites and blacks may be greater, since of the total of 1,056 deaths from the disease accounted for, 32% did not have the color/race of the victim recorded. The data available to date reflect the first wave of people infected with the new coronavirus: people with high purchasing power, who traveled abroad and returned with the virus. “They are mostly white people and have had access to tests and hospital services,” says Ornelas, while emphasizing the lack of consistent data to explain this discrepancy.
Another problem is that the late peak of transmission in areas of black majority and those most vulnerable will cause them to find a health system that is already severely punished when seeking treatment.
“The epidemic started with an elite, mostly white, but it has its cook, its cleaning lady, its caregivers, mostly black,” emphasizes Luis Eduardo Batista, a researcher at the Health Institute of the São Paulo State Health Department and a member of the group of racism and health at Abrasco (Brazilian Association of Collective Health). Therefore, he finds that social isolation was not capable of delaying the arrival of coronavirus in the peripheries, as expected.
This seana, groups fighting for the racial issue, such as the Coalizão Negra Por Direitos (Black Coalition for Rights) and the Grupo de Trabalho de Saúde da População Negra da SBMFC (Black Population Health Working Group of the SBMFC), filed a request, via the Access to Information Law, for the Ministry of Health to disclose the data related to the coronavirus pandemic with focus on race, gender and location.
With information courtesy of Revista Fórum and Correio 24 Horas