With the first wave of COVID-19 almost over and the looming threat of a second wave, it is time to reflect on what we know and can do moving forward to reverse the present statistics.
What do we know about COVID-19?
Statistics wise, data from across the world seems to be telling the same story for black people. The recent Public Health England Report highlighted that black people are more likely to test positive and die as a result of COVID-19. Some of the key statistics are as follows……
Black people are more likely to test positive to COVID-19. One study showed black people are up to 5 times more likely to test positive than white people
Black people are up to 50% more likely to die on contracting the virus. Black males were 4 times more likely to die and females 3 times as likely to die during the reporting period compared to whites where they were 2 and 1.6 times respectively to die within the stated time period compared to last year
The reasons for this is multifactorial and includes socio-economic factors such as likely occupation, other diseases and obesity. However, the crucial point reported was an acknowledgement that systemic racism has been a key driving factor for the statistics reported. This is because systemic racism means that you have more people of colour at the bottom of the health system hierarchy i.e. in high risk jobs. This means that many are unable to highlight key issues and end up working in high risk situations e.g. without personal protective equipment (PPE)
Long term diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity- which are all more common in blacks at a younger age than otherwise don’t just make them vulnerable to COVID-19, it also makes them more vulnerable to the associated complications and death. A Public Health England report, also highlighted the fact that severe mental health illnesses (also common among black people) are another key risk factor for COVID-19. In a nutshell, racism affects the physical and mental well-being of black people, thus the persistent health inequalities we see can only truly be resolved by tackling systemic racism.
How to rise above COVID-19?
Despite various claims across social media, there are no specific cures or supplements that you can take to prevent yourself from contracting the virus. However, the good news is that there are things you can do to limit its effect on you or reduce the duration of its manifestation. I’ve listed some key ones below….
Diet: Having a balanced diet with a daily mixed variety of vegetables and fruits is key to getting all the nutrients you need in the right proportions.
Vitamin D: Top of my supplement list. With studies linking it to immunity and prevention of respiratory infections amongst other functions, this is a useful one to take. It is hard to get an adequate amount from the diet or sunlight hence supplementation is appropriate (in colder climates).
Vitamin C: A potent anti-oxidant which supports the immune system and its functionality. It may help reduce symptoms and the duration of infection if you get the virus.
Zinc: This has been shown to reduce the rate of other short term respiratory infections by reducing the duration of symptoms.
Sleep: The importance of adequate sleep for your immune system is often overlooked, but it is vital for good health and infection prevention
Smoking: There is unsurprisingly evidence linking worse outcomes of COVID-19 with smoking due to the underlying damage it causes to your lungs.
What to do if you get symptoms?
Majority of people only get mild symptoms when they contract the virus. Distinctive symptoms include the persistent cough, shortness of breath and other respiratory issues. Most times the symptoms can be managed safely at home by:
Following the above advise
Staying well hydrated
Getting adequate rest
Getting over the counter medications (seek advise from your pharmacist)
Calling 999 if your condition fails to improve or worsens
Although the list above is widely specific, it is important to seek professional advice when taking supplements to get the best out of them. Often times the dose stated on the pack may not be the best for your situation, for example most coloured people need more vitamin D than the standard recommended dose because of their colour (colour does matter here!). .
Public Health England (PHE). June 2020. Beyond the Data: Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on BAME Communities
Lee J, Hecke OV, Roberts N. Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service Team. Vitamin D: A rapid review of the evidence for treatment or prevention in COVID-19. May 2020