Gilead Sciences and Satcher Health Leadership Institute study COVID-19 racial health inequities

Researchers will create a data map to systematically address the impact of COVID-19 on Black and minority communities

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FOSTER CITY, Calif. & ATLANTA—Gilead Sciences, Inc. and the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine are working together to develop a real-time, public-facing, comprehensive health equity data platform. The platform will help address the impact of COVID-19 and other diseases on communities of color.
“As we have seen, COVID-19 is magnifying inequities that predate the pandemic,” said Daniel E. Dawes, director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute. “Black Americans, Native Americans, Latinx Americans, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans still contend with neighborhoods that are largely devoid of health-sustaining and health-protective resources, and they still contend with the political determinants or drivers that created, perpetuated and exacerbated these health inequities.”
The data platform will provide the ability to collect and study the demographic disparities associated with COVID-19.  The project involves using the data to help create actionable, evidence-based policy changes to attain health equity, and ensuring that disproportionately impacted communities receive resources and support. The data map will go live and be available to the public in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The database will also examine comorbidities associated with COVID-19 like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, sickle cell anemia, cancer and depression. COVID-19 data demonstrate that the disease is disproportionately impacting racial and ethnic minority groups — particularly Black Americans.
“We are honored to partner with Gilead to address the root causes of health inequities,” Dawes continued. “Our collective effort intends to create systemic policy change and realize more equitable outcomes for all population groups.”
Gilead will initially provide $1 million for the data project. The funding will also support the creation of a Black Health Equity Alliance composed of national thought leaders, community representatives, scholars, researchers and policymakers who will help coordinate COVID-19 education, training, policy analysis, and information exchange and dissemination.
Data show that the Black community is disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in the U.S. Black people account for nearly 25 percent of the total number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths, even though they represent only 13 percent of the country’s population. An estimated 60 percent of COVID-19 deaths occurred in disproportionately Black counties. Black people are approximately five times more likely to contract COVID-19 than white people, and nearly twice as likely as white people to die from the coronavirus.
“The data we are compiling with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute will provide the insight we need to help build a better healthcare system for the Black community. At the core, the work we do at Gilead is being on the frontlines where the need is greatest, as we’ve done in HIV and hepatitis C in communities across the country. There are many hurdles in the American healthcare system for the Black community to access care and without data like this, we’ll be having the same conversation when the next pandemic strikes,” explained Douglas M. Brooks, executive director of Community Engagement at Gilead Sciences. “We look forward to working with Morehouse School of Medicine to help address these issues.”

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