What We're Reading: Disparities in Vaccination Rates; Mental Health in Children; Blood Test Predicts Severe COVID-19 Risk

January 18, 2021
AJMC Staff

Vaccination rates against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are significantly lower in Black Americans compared with White Americans; spotlighting the impact of the pandemic on children with mental illness; a rapid blood test predicts which patients with COVID-19 are at highest risk of severe complications or death.

Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

According to an article by Kaiser Health News, vaccination rates against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been shown to be significantly lower in Black Americans compared with White Americans. In 16 states, the vaccination rates have been shown to be 2 to 3 times higher in White Americans, while rates of COVID-19 mortality are nearly 3 times greater in Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans. Notably, issues with access to and mistrust of the vaccine were major factors linked with lower vaccination rates among Black Americans.

Impact of Pandemic on Children With Mental Illness

In an article by NPR, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children with mental illness was spotlighted. For nearly 3 million children nationwide diagnosed with a serious emotional or behavioral health condition, trained teachers and therapists who understand their needs were largely separated from these students when schools closed last April. From April to October 2020, US hospitals saw a 24% increase in the proportion of mental health emergency visits for children aged 5 to 11 years, and a 31% increase for children aged 12 to 17 years.

Rapid Blood Test Identifies High-risk Populations for Severe Disease

A novel rapid blood test was found to predict which patients with COVID-19 are at highest risk of severe complications or death, according to a study by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The predictions, which come within a day of hospital admission, are based on levels of mitochondrial DNA, a unique type of DNA molecule that typically resides inside the energy factories of cells and was shown to spill out of cells and into the bloodstream as a sign of violent cell death in the body.