New York’s racial ‘risk factor’ for COVID treatment is illegal and immoral


New York City’s and state’s departments of health have reached a divisive and destructive low. In new guidelines rationing scarce, lifesaving oral antiviral medications and the one monoclonal antibody preparation that is effective against the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, they instruct providers to “consider race and ethnicity” and give preference to those who are “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.” These directives are immoral, illegal and bear no relation to the science.

The city’s Health Advisory #39 directs providers to adhere to the state Department of Health’s prioritization guidance for utilization of these COVID-19 treatments that are in short supply. It asks providers to consider whether patients are immunocompromised, their age, their vaccine status and the number of risk factors (medical conditions) they have for severe illness.

The problem with the state’s guidance is the instruction that “nonwhite 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.” Hence, all other risk factors such as age, immune, and vaccination status being equal, “nonwhite” and “Hispanic/Latino” patients will be granted superior treatment access compared with whites.


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