The difference cannot be fully explained by the underlying state of health, place of residence or place of care, according to the study published on Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine.
Christopher Rentsch, an assistant professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues examined the relationship between race and Covid-19 testing and adjusted for several variables, including other health conditions and behaviors, medical history, place of care and type of residence.
The team found that black people were more likely to be tested than Hispanic and white people. Black people were tested at a rate of 60 per 1,000 people, compared with 52.7 per 1,000 among Hispanics and 38.6 per 1
Among those who received the Covid-19 test, 10.2% of black people and 11.4% of Hispanics tested positive, compared to only 4.4% of white people. Although black and Hispanic people were more likely to test positive for coronavirus, the team found no differences in 30-day mortality among the different ethnic groups.
The researchers found that the difference between black and white people who tested positive for coronavirus was higher in the Midwest than in the West, while the difference between Hispanic and white people was consistent between regions.
The team used the electronic health records of 5,834,543 people in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Of the group, 91% were men, 74% were white, 19% were black and 7% were Hispanic. Of the 254,595 people tested for Covid-19 between February and July, 16,317 tested positive and 1,057 died.
The researchers cited a low number of women and the lack of detailed information about the social determinants of health as limitations for their research.
“Understanding what drives these differences is important so that strategies can be tailored to limit the disproportionate epidemics in minority communities,” Rentsch said in a statement.
Rentsch and colleagues called for urgent strategies to prevent and limit Covid-19 outbreaks in minority communities.