As COVID-19 rips through New York, the state government has decided to prioritize non-white people to receive COVID-19 treatments because of “longstanding systemic health and social inequities.”
Last week, New York’s Department of Health released a document titled: “Prioritization of Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibodies and Oral Antivirals for the Treatment of COVID-19 During Times of Resource Limitations Introduction.” The memo provides a hierarchy of who should receive the limited supplies of monoclonal antibodies as well as the new oral antiviral pills — Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir — that were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week under Emergency Use Authorization.
New York state offers a framework on which individuals should receive priority for COVID-19 treatments based on “risk factors,” which include those who are immunocompromised, those who are aged 65 or older, and those who are overweight.
There is also a “note” that states that any COVID-infected people who are non-white should receive priority for treatment over white people because of “inequities.”
“Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19,” New York’s Department of Health states.
Erin Silk, a spokesperson for the New York Department of Health, told Fox News, “Systemic poverty, which has clearly proven to be a risk factor in populations in New York State and nationwide, is added to the algorithm of prioritization similar to all other risk factors. It is merely mentioned as a factor that increases risk.”
The spokesperson noted that the state’s “prioritization guidance comes directly from the CDC,” adding “Race nor ethnicity would disqualify an individual from receiving treatment.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “Race and ethnicity are risk markers for other underlying conditions that affect health, including socioeconomic status, access to health care, and exposure to the virus related to occupation, e.g., frontline, essential, and critical infrastructure workers.”
The New York City Department of Health also recommends that race should be considered when prioritizing who receives monoclonal antibodies and oral antiviral pills for COVID-19.
“Consider race and ethnicity when assessing individual risk, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities may contribute to an increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19,” the memo to providers reads.
In May, Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed “the undeniable effects of racism” in America.
“Now, very few of these comorbidities have racial determinants,” said the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden. “Almost all relate to the social determinants of health dating back to disadvantageous conditions that some people of color find themselves in from birth regarding the availability of an adequate diet, access to health care, and the undeniable effects of racism in our society.”