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American Indian and Alaska Native populations admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 have experienced higher death rates than Black and white patients, according to a study published Wednesday by JAMA Network Open.
Researchers examined discharge data from 18,731 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Mississippi during 2020. They found that although American Indian and Alaska Native patients on average had fewer chronic conditions associated with coronavirus risk, they died at much higher rates than patients of other races.
Authors noted that as of November 2021, American Indian and Alaska Native populations were 1.6 times more likely to have COVID-19, 3.3 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 2.2 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than non-Hispanic White Americans.
According to the study, Black patients were 75 percent less likely to die from the virus, and white patients were 77 percent less likely to die.
“Although we do not discredit the role that comorbidities may play in COVID-19 outcomes, alternative contributing factors to disparate COVID-19 hospitalization and mortality outcomes among Indigenous populations must be considered,” the authors wrote.
“Discrimination, marginalization, inability to see preferred clinicians, and systemic underfunding of the Indian Health Service (IHS) have been widely cited as barriers to American Indian and Alaska Native individuals accessing care.”
JAMA Network Open, In-Hospital Mortality Disparities Among American Indian and Alaska Native, Black, and White Patients With COVID-19