• Among adults with kidney failure undergoing hemodialysis in New York City, Black and Hispanic patients were more likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19 than White patients.
  • Neighborhood-level social vulnerability factors were associated with COVID-19 incidence among White patients, but these factors did not explain racial/ethnic disparities.

Newswise — Washington, DC (June 1, 2021) — In an analysis of patients on hemodialysis in New York City, there were substantial racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19 rates that were not explained by neighborhood social vulnerability. The findings appear in an upcoming issue of JASN.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected socially disadvantaged groups, including Black and Hispanic individuals, those with limited English proficiency, and persons of low socioeconomic status. To examine potential racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in COVID-19 in individuals with kidney failure who are undergoing hemodialysis (which puts them at risk of acquiring COVID-19 because they travel several times each week to receive treatment in a congregate setting), Sri Lekha Tummalapalli, MD, MBA, MAS (Weill Cornell Medicine and The Rogosin Institute) and her colleagues analyzed information on 1,378 patients receiving in-center hemodialysis in New York City between March 1, 2020 and August 3, 2020.

A total of 247 patients (17.9%) developed symptomatic COVID-19. Compared with non- Hispanic White patients, non-Hispanic Black patients and Hispanic patients were 1.76-times and 2.66-times more likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19, respectively, after adjustments. “Racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19 incidence among patients on hemodialysis largely mirrored community transmission patterns, and likely reflect neighborhood spread to this vulnerable population,” said Dr. Tummalapali. 

The investigators found that neighborhood-level social vulnerability factors—such as income, education level, languages spoken, and housing crowding—were associated with COVID-19 incidence among non-Hispanic White patients, but these factors did not explain racial/ethnic disparities. Black and Hispanic patients on hemodialysis faced an excess risk of acquiring COVID-19, regardless of the neighborhood they lived in.

“These results suggest that other unmeasured household and community exposures contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in acquiring COVID-19,” said Dr. Tummalapalli. “Understanding factors that drive disparities could inform policies and interventions designed to mitigate disparities.” 

Study co-authors include Jeffrey Silberzweig, MD, Daniel Cukor, PhD, Jonathan T. Lin, MD, Tarek Barbar, MD, Yao Liu, PhD, Kwan Kim, MS, Thomas S. Parker, PhD, Daniel M. Levine, PhD, and Said A. Ibrahim, MD, MPH, MBA. 

Disclosures:  Dr. Tummalapalli received consulting fees from Bayer AG unrelated to the submitted work. The remaining authors have nothing to disclose.

The article, titled “Racial and Neighborhood-level Disparities in COVID-19 Incidence among Patients on Hemodialysis in New York City,” is online at https://jasn.asnjournals.org/content/early/2021/06/03/ASN.2020111606.

The content of this article does not reflect the views or opinions of The American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s). ASN does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.

Since 1966, ASN has been leading the fight to prevent, treat, and cure kidney diseases throughout the world by educating health professionals and scientists, advancing research and innovation, communicating new knowledge, and advocating for the highest quality care for patients. ASN has more than 21,000 members representing 131 countries. For more information, visit www.asn-online.org.


# # #

Journal Link: JASN