In Fauci's address to Emory graduates, he addressed the fact that people of color have been harder-hit by the pandemic.
COVID-19, he said, has exposed the inequalities in US society, how that harms people's health, and their prospects.
Black and Hispanic Americans were more likely to get infected, hospitalized, and die from COVID-19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US' leading infectious disease expert, said Sunday at Emory University's graduation ceremony that racism has led to health disparities among people of color in the pandemic.
"COVID-19 has shone a bright light on our own society's failings," Fauci said.
Minorities such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Fauci said these groups tend to be essential workers and have a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. He added that they have preexisting conditions, like hypertension, chronic lung disease, diabetes, or obesity, and are more likely to get infected with COVID-19 if exposed to the coronavirus.
"Now, very few of these comorbidities have racial determinants," Fauci said. "Almost all relate to the social determinants of health dating back to disadvantageous conditions that some people of color find themselves in from birth regarding the availability of an adequate diet, access to health care and the undeniable effects of racism in our society."
Fauci told graduates to remember these disparities as we return to 'normal'
Throughout the pandemic, vasts amounts of research have shown that minorities have suffered the most from COVID-19.
A large study, published in March 2021, found that Black and Hispanic people were more likely to get infected, hospitalized, and die with COVID-19. Another study, published in March 2020, found that death rates from COVID-19 were almost twice as high in American Indians and Alaska Natives people compared to whites.
Fauci applaused the graduates for persevering with their studies through such a trying time.
He also urged students to remember how the virus disproportionately affected people of color as we gradually return to normalcy.
"Societal divisiveness is counterproductive in a pandemic," Fauci said. "We must not be at odds with each other since the virus is the enemy, not each other."
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