Though many White children have died this pandemic, research shows that in the US, about 75% of pediatric deaths occurred in Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native children. This matters. If the pandemic’s chief victims weren’t also it’s most marginalized, I imagine that fewer people of privilege would be so desperate to minimize COVID’s impact on children.

A new paper titled “Highlighting COVID-19 Racial Disparities Can Reduce Support for Safety Precautions Among White U.S. Residents” supports this hypothesis. Allison Skinner-Dorkenoo, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Georgia and co-author of the study, said,

“When white people in the U.S. were more aware of racial disparities in Covid-19, they were less fearful of Covid-19. We found evidence of less empathy for people who are vulnerable to Covid-19 and we also found evidence of reduced support for safety precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
She added that the findings show that white people tend to care less about Covid and its impact when they believe it is “not a white people problem.”

Pediatric COVID is mostly not a White people problem and so from the secure and sheltered, there is more outrage about museum vaccination requirements than about children suffering from a largely vaccine-preventable virus (even with Omicron). I’m not an expert on racism and what policies can mitigate its harms, but I suspect the mass infection of unvaccinated children wouldn’t have been openly championed if more White children had died.

Author

  • Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist based in New York City who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19.

Posted by Jonathan Howard

Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist based in New York City who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19.