Monday, June 22, 2020
SARS CoV-2/COVID-19 Literature Digest
For the Week Ending June 19, 2020
As scientists begin to learn more about the SARS-CoV2 virus and COVID-19 disease, a number of critical findings have been published. In this literature digest, we highlight some of the top SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 publications.

This week, in addition to our usual basic science literature curation, we chose to focus on articles that highlight the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black and minority populations in the United States, and the of myriad structural, systemic, societal, and political drivers behind these disparities. As academics, scientists, and physicians, it is our responsibility to do this work, and to serve as advocates for those whose voices often go unheard. As our country confronts racism amidst a global pandemic, it is clear that these issues are intricately intertwined. We cannot effectively combat COVID-19 without combating systemic racism and the healthcare disparities that result from it.

Special thanks to Chiara Evans, Jonathan Khan, and Anthony Antonelli for their support in compiling this digest.
COVID-19 Health Disparities

This Viewpoint article highlights the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans, citing statistics from Louisiana and Michigan, and predominantly black neighborhoods like New York City and Chicago's South Side. Results from a Johns Hopkins study also revealed that predominantly black counties in the US show a 6-fold higher death rate from COVID-19. Elaborating on the healthy disparity beyond just co-morbidities, author Clyde W. Yancy writes, "Where and how black individuals live matters. If race per se enters this discussion, it is because in so many communities, race determines home. Once adverse outcomes attributable to known risks for COVID-19 complications are disaggregated from total morbidity and mortality burden due to COVID-19, the pernicious influence of adverse social determinants of health is likely to become apparent.

Yancy, Clyde W."COVID-19 and African Americans." JAMA. (2020).

This article from The Lancet comments on the healthcare disparity in the US from a structural and political perspective. In a quote from Sharrelle Barber of Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health, the authors write, "Part of the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of colour has been structural factors that prevent those communities from practicing social distancing. Minority populations in the US disproportionally make up “essential workers” such as retail grocery workers, public transit employees, and health-care workers and custodial staff.

van Dorn, A., Cooney, R. E., & Sabin, M. L. COVID-19 exacerbating inequalities in the US. Lancet (London, England), 395(10232), 1243. (2020).

COVID-19 has rapidly emerged as a major threat to the public’s health. While it was initially thought that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 would be the great equaliser as it would not discriminate, it is clear that COVID-19 incidence and mortality have rapidly reinforced health disparities drawn by historical and contemporary inequities. It is already clear that African Americans, Latinx persons and Native Americans are suffering disproportionately higher exposures to COVID-19, worse clinical outcomes and higher mortality. These disparities are complex in origin, and are, at least in part, an outcome of centuries of structural inequities in opportunity, education, employment, housing, healthcare access and income.

Okonkwo, Nneoma E., et al. "COVID-19 and the US response: accelerating health inequities." BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine (2020).

In this Q and A, Nature speaks with a physician who primarily serves underserved populations to discuss the ways wherin her organisation is helping to bring COVID19 testing and medical interventions to underserved populations. Furthermore the doctor describes the some of the reason why certian groups such as the African American community of Oakland are underserved. 

Amy Maxmen. "Why more coronavirus testing won't automatically help the hardest hit." Nature (2020).
Basic Science Immunology

This study aimed to evaluate the safety of therapeutic concalescent plasma transfer to COVID-19 patients. Of 25 patients evaluated, 9 had improvement by day 7, and an additional 12 patients (for a total of 19) had improvement by day 14, in line with other published studies focused on convalescent plasma.

Salazar, Eric, et al. "Treatment of COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma." The American Journal of Pathology (2020).