Qeadan F, VanSant-Webb E, Tingey B, Rogers TN, Brooks E, Mensah NA, Winkfield KM, Saeed AI, English K, Rogers CR. Racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes exist despite comparable Elixhauser comorbidity indices between Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Whites. Scientific reports. 2021 Dec 22;11(11). 8738 p. PMID: 33888833 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC8062526
Factors contributing to racial inequities in outcomes from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remain poorly understood. We compared by race the risk of 4 COVID-19 health outcomes--maximum length of hospital stay (LOS), invasive ventilation, hospitalization exceeding 24 h, and death--stratified by Elixhauser comorbidity index (ECI) ranking. Outcomes and ECI scores were constructed from retrospective data obtained from the Cerner COVID-19 De-Identified Data cohort. We hypothesized that racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes would exist despite comparable ECI scores among non-Hispanic (NH) Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), and NH Whites. Compared with NH Whites, NH Blacks had longer hospital LOS, higher rates of ventilator dependence, and a higher mortality rate; AI/ANs, higher odds of hospitalization for ECI = 0 but lower for ECI ≥ 5, longer LOS for ECI = 0, a higher risk of death across all ECI categories except ECI ≥ 5, and higher odds of ventilator dependence; Hispanics, a lower risk of death across all ECI categories except ECI = 0, lower odds of hospitalization, shorter LOS for ECI ≥ 5, and higher odds of ventilator dependence for ECI = 0 but lower for ECI = 1-4. Our findings contest arguments that higher comorbidity levels explain elevated COVID-19 death rates among NH Blacks and AI/ANs compared with Hispanics and NH Whites.