Earlier, by Steve Sailer: Matt Ridley: Vitamin D May Help Cut Disparate Black Covid Death Rate
We all know, now that the data is finally being reported, that Blacks are being ravaged by Covid-19 out of proportion to their numbers. [Black people in the UK four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people, new data shows, by Rob Picheta, CNN, May 7, 2020] The Main Stream Media would have you believe that it’s purely due to sociological factors such as living in crowded areas. But, as I reported last week, even the British Medical Journal is now reporting that it must also partly be to do with having dark skin in an environment with dark winters and being Vitamin D deficient as a consequence. [It is time to take seriously the link between Vitamin D deficiency and more serious Covid-19 symptoms, by Matt Ridley, Telegraph, May 3, 2020] But what about Hispanics? How are they faring in the battle against the Wu Flu? And to what extent is this a partly matter of genetic racial differences?
We would predict that they would fare better than Blacks but worse than Whites. And this what seems to be happening.
Although “Hispanic” is a racially imprecise term, basically referring to anyone with recent ancestry in Mexico, Central or South America, most U.S. Hispanics are what is known as a “cline”—a varying mixture of European and Native American. For the most part, their skin is brown, but nowhere near as dark as that of Blacks. On this basis, we would expect that their skin wouldn’t absorb as much light from the sun as whites (meaning they wouldn’t make as much Vitamin D) but they would absorb far more sunlight than Blacks do. As such, the disease’s impact should be better for Hispanics than it is for Blacks.
It is possible that this is why Mexican government specialists reportedly believed that “the Mexican race” would prove relatively resistant to Covid-19. Deaths in Mexico have now exceeded their predicted upper limit of 2000—3,160 as of May 9—but this is still proportionately far less that the U.S.A.’s 80,000, given that Mexico has well over a third of the U.S. population.
In Utah, Hispanics make up 14% of the population, but they are 29% of hospitalizations. In Oregon, Latinos are 13% of the population and 22% of the serious cases. New Jersey has a 19% Hispanic population, but they constitute 30% of Covid-19 hospital patients. Washington State is 13% Latino, but they make-up 25% of Corona hospitalizations. This means that Hispanics are over-represented among serious cases of Covid-19 at somewhere between 1.6 and 2 times their percentage of the population. Data from New York City indicates they are over-represented among the Covid-19 death toll at 1.6 times their percentage of population [‘The virus doesn't discriminate but governments do’: Latinos disproportionately hit by coronavirus, by Maanvi Singh & Mario Koran, Guardian, April 18, 2020].
If we look at Black over-representation, as I have reported before, Blacks are 30% of the Chicago population and 70% of Covid-19 deaths, meaning they are over-represented by a factor of 2.3. The same over-representation is found in Louisiana, but in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Blacks are over-represented at 3.1 times their population percentage.
So far, so good for the Vitamin D Hypothesis and Hispanics. But there’s more.
Fascinatingly, in U.S. states that are relatively further to the south, this problem—of Hispanic over-representation—doesn’t seem to exist. In California, for example, Hispanics are 39% of the population but only 30% of Covid-19 deaths. David Hayes-Bautista, [send him mail] director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the UCLA School of Medicine, told Britain’s left-wing Guardian newspaper in the report cited above that “The problems aren’t genetic…They are structural.”
Structural? Hayes-Bautista implies that Hispanics suffer worse from Covid-19 because, as The Guardian paraphrased him, Hispanics are more likely to be “grocery store staff, restaurant workers, caretakers, cleaners and delivery workers . . . putting themselves at the frontlines of the pandemic.”
This is the key issue, because their problems with underlying health conditions don’t differ much from those of whites:
With the exception of diabetes, Latinos on average have lower rates of heart disease, cancers, hypertension and other underlying conditions that make people especially vulnerable to Covid-19, Hayes-Bautista noted.
But unless Hispanics are much wealthier and healthier in California than they are in states that are further north, the finding from California would be consistent with the Vitamin D hypothesis.
And what happens if we do travel further north? Well, Boston is 20% Hispanic, yet, according to Dr Joseph Betancourt, “the vice-president and chief equity and inclusion officer” at Massachusetts General in Boston, up to 40% of Covid-19 patients at the hospital are Hispanics. He told The Guardian that, normally, about 9% of patients at the hospital are Hispanic
But, either way, Hispanics are over-represented among Boston patients with Covid-19, at double their numbers and possibly triple, depending on what measurement you use.
In fact, there is a pattern—though not a precise pattern—whereby Hispanics and Blacks are the most over-represented among Covid-19 deaths in the more northerly states and are the least over-represented in the more southerly ones. For example, Hispanics are most over-represented in New York and New Hampshire but they are least over-represented in Texas and Arizona [The Color of the Corona Virus, by AMP Research Lab Staff, AMP Research Lab, May 5, 2020].
Dr Hayes-Bautista is likely correct that “structural problems” are relevant to the over-representation of Hispanics among Americans dying from Covid-19. But it is clearly not in line with the evidence to claim that “structural problems” explain all, or even most of the variance.
If that were the case, then Hispanics in southerly states wouldn’t appear to be less impacted than Hispanics in northerly states and the death rate among Hispanics shouldn’t be much different from the death rate among Blacks. Nationwide, 22% of Blacks and 19% of Hispanics are classified as living in “poverty” and, in some states, such as Alabama, Hispanics are more likely to be impoverished than Blacks [Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity, KFF, 2018]. Yet Blacks are being hit by Covid-19 far more acutely than are Hispanics.
There are multiple possible reasons for race differences in Covid-19 fatality. But differences in the ability to produce Vitamin D from sunlight in a given environment increasingly appear to be a possible reason.
To conclude with my now traditional moral drawn at the end of my WuFlu articles:
Lance Welton [email him] is the pen name of a freelance journalist living in New York.