Latino and Black patients diagnosed with COVID-19 developed a wider array of lasting symptoms and conditions compared with white patients, according to a new study by Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian researchers.
Published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the study supports previous evidence that racial and ethnic disparities are prevalent among COVID patients in the United States. Researchers previously determined that Latino and Black patients were hospitalized with COVID at higher rates compared with white patients. This new study found racial and ethnic disparities in the frequency and types of symptoms and conditions experienced by people following acute COVID, also known as long COVID.
“Identifying potential racial and ethnic disparities in long COVID is an important step toward making sure we have an equitable response to the long-term consequences of coronavirus infection,” said lead author Dhruv Khullar, MD, MPP, an assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medicine and hospitalist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in a Cornell news release.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost one in five people diagnosed with COVID will experience long-lasting symptoms or be diagnosed with a new condition 30 days after having COVID. Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, blood clots and other conditions.
The study sought to determine whether risk and type of post-COVID symptoms varied among racial and ethnic groups. Researchers observed 20,370 Latino patients, 12,638 Black patients and 29,331 white patients who had COVID in New York City between March 2020 and October 2021.
Researchers found that Latino and Black patients were more likely to develop new symptoms compared with white patients. The types of symptoms varied among the groups. For example, Latino patients were more likely to have headaches or chest pain, and Black patients were more likely to develop blood clots in the lungs or to be diagnosed with diabetes post-COVID compared with white patients, who were more likely to experience abnormal brain function or damage to the brain.
Khullar said more studies are required to understand the causes of these observed differences.
“We hope our study encourages clinicians, researchers and policymakers to pay attention to potential differences in long COVID across racial and ethnic groups and to stimulate more research and discussion,” Khullar said.