Social and racial inequalities as contributing factors to COVID-19 in Brazil

New study by Brazil–UK CADDE Group, including Dr Andreza de Souza Santos, Director of the Brazilian Studies Programme - LAC and led by Sabrine Li, also from Oxford, School of Geography.

Policy fragmentation and lack of coordination in social distancing policies is one of the traits of the pandemic in Brazil. However, another reason why Brazilians are not adhering to social distancing policies is related to precariousness/informality in labour and inequality.  

In São Paulo, between April and July 2020, people from the poorest 40 per cent of census tracts had an 8 per cent higher risk of hospitalisation and were 60 per cent more likely to die from COVID-19. Black individuals were 37 per cent more likely to be hospitalised and Pardo (mixed ethnicity) individuals were 21 per cent more likely to be hospitalised. They were also more likely to die from COVID-19 relative to White individuals. Furthermore, patients in public hospitals were 40 per cent more likely to die from COVID-19 than those in private hospitals.

Black and Pardo populations, as well as those with low educational attainment, have higher prevalence of multiple comorbidities, including chronic respiratory and heart conditions known to aggravate COVID‐19 severity. These populations are also more likely to have no access to social security and to be employed in precarious job positions that require working in person, thus hindering their ability to follow social isolation recommendations. Vulnerability to COVID-19 is strongly influenced by pre-existing health inequities, comorbidities, access to health care and socioeconomic conditions.

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(Li SL., et al. “Higher risk of death from COVID-19 in low-income and non-White populations of São Paulo, Brazil” BMJ Global Health 2021).