Health: Covid-19, Blood Thinner, and Race

The Story:

Treatment of Covid-19 often requires the use of a blood thinner, because clotting is a common symptom. But according to a new analysis of the effects of different blood thinners on patients with Covid-19, a blood thinner more likely to be given to Caucasian patients is statistically associated with fewer complications and superior results compared to the alternative drug more often given to Black patients.

Significance:

This statistical correlation is the work of a highly regarded Massachusetts data analytics company, nference, funded in part by the Mayo Clinic. The finding in short is that unfractionated heparin, the low-cost anti-coagulant, is statistically tied to kidney injuries, heart injuries and life-threatening infections. Enoxaparin (associated with the Sanofi-Aventis brand name Lovenox – though also available generically) is superior on all those counts. Black patients were 28% more likely to receive heparin than Caucasians.

In Pill Form:

The co-author of the study, Venky Soundararajan, cautions that the study shows statistical correlations, not causality. But the correlations are sufficiently striking to call for rigorous research into socioeconomic and racial disparities underlying treatment and outcomes.

It should be noted that the cost differential does not depend on the brand name. Even generic enoxaparin is more expensive than heparin.

 

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