Researchers look into how Long COVID affects Black Americans but face challenges in studies

Posted at 1:43 PM, Apr 13, 2022

At the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were higher among Black Americans than white Americans.

Public health leaders worry that with those higher infection rates, more Black Americans are now dealing with Long COVID.

But, public leaders say, they're facing disparities in diagnosis and accessing treatment.

“Black Americans are overrepresented in poverty. They're more likely to hold essential worker jobs and work for hourly wages. Those are all social and structural barriers to accessing care, you know. They're more likely to not have insurance or be underinsured,” Carol Oladele at Yale School of Medicine said.

“These are also factors that will contribute to, you know, disparities in diagnosing Black Americans with Long COVID,” she said.

Oladele is one of the researchers involved in a recent report by the Black Coalition Against Covid.

Studies estimate 10% to 30% of percent of people who get infected with COVID-19 develop Long COVID.

That amounts to about 23 million people in the U.S. who may have developed Long COVID.

The authors of the report worry, not enough Black Americans were included in the trials to find out more.

“How do we reduce those social and structural barriers that limit access to these to participation in clinical trials? Addressing things like transportation, childcare, you know, rethinking the geographical location of clinical trials, embedding them in the communities that we're trying to recruit,” said Oladele.

The Biden administration recently announced it is accelerating research efforts into the causes and treatment of Long COVID.

That includes expanding the more than $1 billion Long COVID study that the National Institutes of Health started last year.

Researchers are working to get 40,000 people with and without Long COVID in that study.

The Long COVID programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs are serving as incubators for ideas in dealing with the condition.

If your COVID symptoms last beyond 4 weeks, you should share those with your health care provider.

You can also ask them about being included in a Long COVID clinical trial.