“The issue of fairness and the distribution of Baxlovid is similar to what we saw in the distribution of the vaccine,” she said. “You have to think about access to primary care pharmacies, especially in economically disadvantaged communities.”
Salas Lopez noted that community hesitation also plays a role. “These are new vaccines, new treatments, so the familiarity is not there with all members of our community, but in particular, the members of our community who have experienced a lack of trust in the healthcare system.
“In addition, guidelines for testing, vaccines, and treatment medications can change rapidly, making it difficult for providers and community members to stay on top of all the changes – your head is spinning,” she added.
Salas Lopez added that structural racism may also play a role.
She noted that one weakness of the study was that the researchers did not take into account the prescriptions given directly in clinics and drug stores, which gave thousands of doses of Baxlovid and may have altered the results.
Salas Lopez said it’s the health care systems’ responsibility to partly end these disparities.
In her health care system, they created a Health Equity Task Force to identify health care weaknesses in their community. Then they started outreach programs to fill these gaps.
“Health systems have to work hard to address the issue of inequality,” said Salas Lopez. “It takes a mission and vision to do that, and then action.”
The report, which followed patients from January to July this year, was published October 28 in the Centers for Disease Control Weekly morbidity and mortality report.
For more information about COVID-19, see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Tejan Boehmer, PhD, Acting President, Healthy Community Design Initiative, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Debbie Salas Lopez, MD, MPH, senior vice president, community and population health, Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, NY; Weekly morbidity and mortality reportOctober 28, 2022