Health and Human Rights Journal

STUDENT ESSAY The Disproportional Impact of COVID-19 on African Americans

Volume 22/2, December 2020, pp 299-307

Maritza Vasquez Reyes


We all have been affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, the impact of the pandemic and its consequences are felt differently depending on our status as individuals and as members of society. While some try to adapt to working online, homeschooling their children and ordering food via Instacart, others have no choice but to be exposed to the virus while keeping society functioning. Our different social identities and the social groups we belong to determine our inclusion within society and, by extension, our vulnerability to epidemics.

COVID-19 is killing people on a large scale. As of October 10, 2020, more than 7.7 million people across every state in the United States and its four territories had tested positive for COVID-19. According to the New York Times database, at least 213,876 people with the virus have died in the United States. [1] However, these alarming numbers give us only half of the picture; a closer look at data by different social identities (such as class, gender, age, race, and medical history) shows that minorities have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic. These minorities in the United States are not having their right to health fulfilled.

According to the World Health Organization’s report Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health , “poor and unequal living conditions are the consequences of deeper structural conditions that together fashion the way societies are organized—poor social policies and programs, unfair economic arrangements, and bad politics.” [2] This toxic combination of factors as they play out during this time of crisis, and as early news on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic pointed out, is disproportionately affecting African American communities in the United States. I recognize that the pandemic has had and is having devastating effects on other minorities as well, but space does not permit this essay to explore the impact on other minority groups.

Employing a human rights lens in this analysis helps us translate needs and social problems into rights, focusing our attention on the broader sociopolitical structural context as the cause of the social problems. Human rights highlight the inherent dignity and worth of all people, who are the primary rights-holders. [3] Governments (and other social actors, such as corporations) are the duty-bearers, and as such have the obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights. [4] Human rights cannot be separated from the societal contexts in which they are recognized, claimed, enforced, and fulfilled. Specifically, social rights, which include the right to health, can become important tools for advancing people’s citizenship and enhancing their ability to participate as active members of society. [5] Such an understanding of social rights calls our attention to the concept of equality, which requires that we place a greater emphasis on “solidarity” and the “collective.” [6] Furthermore, in order to generate equality, solidarity, and social integration, the fulfillment of social rights is not optional. [7] In order to fulfill social integration, social policies need to reflect a commitment to respect and protect the most vulnerable individuals and to create the conditions for the fulfillment of economic and social rights for all.

Disproportional impact of COVID-19 on African Americans

As noted by Samuel Dickman et al.:

economic inequality in the US has been increasing for decades and is now among the highest in developed countries … As economic inequality in the US has deepened, so too has inequality in health. Both overall and government health spending are higher in the US than in other countries, yet inadequate insurance coverage, high-cost sharing by patients, and geographical barriers restrict access to care for many. [8]

For instance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2018, 11.7% of African Americans in the United States had no health insurance, compared to 7.5% of whites. [9]

Prior to the Affordable Care Act—enacted into law in 2010—about 20% of African Americans were uninsured. This act helped lower the uninsured rate among nonelderly African Americans by more than one-third between 2013 and 2016, from 18.9% to 11.7%. However, even after the law’s passage, African Americans have higher uninsured rates than whites (7.5%) and Asian Americans (6.3%). [10] The uninsured are far more likely than the insured to forgo needed medical visits, tests, treatments, and medications because of cost.

As the COVID-19 virus made its way throughout the United States, testing kits were distributed equally among labs across the 50 states, without consideration of population density or actual needs for testing in those states. An opportunity to stop the spread of the virus during its early stages was missed, with serious consequences for many Americans. Although there is a dearth of race-disaggregated data on the number of people tested, the data that are available highlight African Americans’ overall lack of access to testing. For example, in Kansas, as of June 27, according to the COVID Racial Data Tracker, out of 94,780 tests, only 4,854 were from black Americans and 50,070 were from whites. However, blacks make up almost a third of the state’s COVID-19 deaths (59 of 208). And while in Illinois the total numbers of confirmed cases among blacks and whites were almost even, the test numbers show a different picture: 220,968 whites were tested, compared to only 78,650 blacks. [11]

Similarly, American Public Media reported on the COVID-19 mortality rate by race/ethnicity through July 21, 2020, including Washington, DC, and 45 states (see figure 1). These data, while showing an alarming death rate for all races, demonstrate how minorities are hit harder and how, among minority groups, the African American population in many states bears the brunt of the pandemic’s health impact.

body of essay about covid 19

Approximately 97.9 out of every 100,000 African Americans have died from COVID-19, a mortality rate that is a third higher than that for Latinos (64.7 per 100,000), and more than double than that for whites (46.6 per 100,000) and Asians (40.4 per 100,000). The overrepresentation of African Americans among confirmed COVID-19 cases and number of deaths underscores the fact that the coronavirus pandemic, far from being an equalizer, is amplifying or even worsening existing social inequalities tied to race, class, and access to the health care system.

Considering how African Americans and other minorities are overrepresented among those getting infected and dying from COVID-19, experts recommend that more testing be done in minority communities and that more medical services be provided. [12] Although the law requires insurers to cover testing for patients who go to their doctor’s office or who visit urgent care or emergency rooms, patients are fearful of ending up with a bill if their visit does not result in a COVID test. Furthermore, minority patients who lack insurance or are underinsured are less likely to be tested for COVID-19, even when experiencing alarming symptoms. These inequitable outcomes suggest the importance of increasing the number of testing centers and contact tracing in communities where African Americans and other minorities reside; providing testing beyond symptomatic individuals; ensuring that high-risk communities receive more health care workers; strengthening social provision programs to address the immediate needs of this population (such as food security, housing, and access to medicines); and providing financial protection for currently uninsured workers.

Social determinants of health and the pandemic’s impact on African Americans’ health outcomes

In international human rights law, the right to health is a claim to a set of social arrangements—norms, institutions, laws, and enabling environment—that can best secure the enjoyment of this right. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights sets out the core provision relating to the right to health under international law (article 12). [13] The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is the body responsible for interpreting the covenant. [14] In 2000, the committee adopted a general comment on the right to health recognizing that the right to health is closely related to and dependent on the realization of other human rights. [15] In addition, this general comment interprets the right to health as an inclusive right extending not only to timely and appropriate health care but also to the determinants of health. [16] I will reflect on four determinants of health—racism and discrimination, poverty, residential segregation, and underlying medical conditions—that have a significant impact on the health outcomes of African Americans.

Racism and discrimination

In spite of growing interest in understanding the association between the social determinants of health and health outcomes, for a long time many academics, policy makers, elected officials, and others were reluctant to identify racism as one of the root causes of racial health inequities. [17] To date, many of the studies conducted to investigate the effect of racism on health have focused mainly on interpersonal racial and ethnic discrimination, with comparatively less emphasis on investigating the health outcomes of structural racism. [18] The latter involves interconnected institutions whose linkages are historically rooted and culturally reinforced. [19] In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, acts of discrimination are taking place in a variety of contexts (for example, social, political, and historical). In some ways, the pandemic has exposed existing racism and discrimination.

Poverty (low-wage jobs, insurance coverage, homelessness, and jails and prisons)

Data drawn from the 2018 Current Population Survey to assess the characteristics of low-income families by race and ethnicity shows that of the 7.5 million low-income families with children in the United States, 20.8% were black or African American (while their percentage of the population in 2018 was only 13.4%). [20] Low-income racial and ethnic minorities tend to live in densely populated areas and multigenerational households. These living conditions make it difficult for low-income families to take necessary precautions for their safety and the safety of their loved ones on a regular basis. [21] This fact becomes even more crucial during a pandemic.

Low-wage jobs: The types of work where people in some racial and ethnic groups are overrepresented can also contribute to their risk of getting sick with COVID-19. Nearly 40% of African American workers, more than seven million, are low-wage workers and have jobs that deny them even a single paid sick day. Workers without paid sick leave might be more likely to continue to work even when they are sick. [22] This can increase workers’ exposure to other workers who may be infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control has noted that many African Americans who hold low-wage but essential jobs (such as food service, public transit, and health care) are required to continue to interact with the public, despite outbreaks in their communities, which exposes them to higher risks of COVID-19 infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly a quarter of employed Hispanic and black or African American workers are employed in service industry jobs, compared to 16% of non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans make up 12% of all employed workers but account for 30% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, who face significant exposure to the coronavirus. [23]

In 2018, 45% of low-wage workers relied on an employer for health insurance. This situation forces low-wage workers to continue to go to work even when they are not feeling well. Some employers allow their workers to be absent only when they test positive for COVID-19. Given the way the virus spreads, by the time a person knows they are infected, they have likely already infected many others in close contact with them both at home and at work. [24]

Homelessness : Staying home is not an option for the homeless. African Americans, despite making up just 13% of the US population, account for about 40% of the nation’s homeless population, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. [25] Given that people experiencing homelessness often live in close quarters, have compromised immune systems, and are aging, they are exceptionally vulnerable to communicable diseases—including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Jails and prisons : Nearly 2.2 million people are in US jails and prisons, the highest rate in the world. According to the US Bureau of Justice, in 2018, the imprisonment rate among black men was 5.8 times that of white men, while the imprisonment rate among black women was 1.8 times the rate among white women. [26] This overrepresentation of African Americans in US jails and prisons is another indicator of the social and economic inequality affecting this population.

According to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ General Comment 14, “states are under the obligation to respect the right to health by, inter alia , refraining from denying or limiting equal access for all persons—including prisoners or detainees, minorities, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants—to preventive, curative, and palliative health services.” [27] Moreover, “states have an obligation to ensure medical care for prisoners at least equivalent to that available to the general population.” [28] However, there has been a very limited response to preventing transmission of the virus within detention facilities, which cannot achieve the physical distancing needed to effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19. [29]

Residential segregation

Segregation affects people’s access to healthy foods and green space. It can also increase excess exposure to pollution and environmental hazards, which in turn increases the risk for diabetes and heart and kidney diseases. [30] African Americans living in impoverished, segregated neighborhoods may live farther away from grocery stores, hospitals, and other medical facilities. [31] These and other social and economic inequalities, more so than any genetic or biological predisposition, have also led to higher rates of African Americans contracting the coronavirus. To this effect, sociologist Robert Sampson states that the coronavirus is exposing class and race-based vulnerabilities. He refers to this factor as “toxic inequality,” especially the clustering of COVID-19 cases by community, and reminds us that African Americans, even if they are at the same level of income or poverty as white Americans or Latino Americans, are much more likely to live in neighborhoods that have concentrated poverty, polluted environments, lead exposure, higher rates of incarceration, and higher rates of violence. [32]

Many of these factors lead to long-term health consequences. The pandemic is concentrating in urban areas with high population density, which are, for the most part, neighborhoods where marginalized and minority individuals live. In times of COVID-19, these concentrations place a high burden on the residents and on already stressed hospitals in these regions. Strategies most recommended to control the spread of COVID-19—social distancing and frequent hand washing—are not always practical for those who are incarcerated or for the millions who live in highly dense communities with precarious or insecure housing, poor sanitation, and limited access to clean water.

Underlying health conditions

African Americans have historically been disproportionately diagnosed with chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension and diabetes—underlying conditions that may make COVID-19 more lethal. Perhaps there has never been a pandemic that has brought these disparities so vividly into focus.

Doctor Anthony Fauci, an immunologist who has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has noted that “it is not that [African Americans] are getting infected more often. It’s that when they do get infected, their underlying medical conditions … wind them up in the ICU and ultimately give them a higher death rate.” [33]

One of the highest risk factors for COVID-19-related death among African Americans is hypertension. A recent study by Khansa Ahmad et al. analyzed the correlation between poverty and cardiovascular diseases, an indicator of why so many black lives are lost in the current health crisis. The authors note that the American health care system has not yet been able to address the higher propensity of lower socioeconomic classes to suffer from cardiovascular disease. [34] Besides having higher prevalence of chronic conditions compared to whites, African Americans experience higher death rates. These trends existed prior to COVID-19, but this pandemic has made them more visible and worrisome.

Addressing the impact of COVID-19 on African Americans: A human rights-based approach

The racially disparate death rate and socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the discriminatory enforcement of pandemic-related restrictions stand in stark contrast to the United States’ commitment to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. In 1965, the United States signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which it ratified in 1994. Article 2 of the convention contains fundamental obligations of state parties, which are further elaborated in articles 5, 6, and 7. [35] Article 2 of the convention stipulates that “each State Party shall take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists” and that “each State Party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization.” [36]

Perhaps this crisis will not only greatly affect the health of our most vulnerable community members but also focus public attention on their rights and safety—or lack thereof. Disparate COVID-19 mortality rates among the African American population reflect longstanding inequalities rooted in systemic and pervasive problems in the United States (for example, racism and the inadequacy of the country’s health care system). As noted by Audrey Chapman, “the purpose of a human right is to frame public policies and private behaviors so as to protect and promote the human dignity and welfare of all members and groups within society, particularly those who are vulnerable and poor, and to effectively implement them.” [37] A deeper awareness of inequity and the role of social determinants demonstrates the importance of using right to health paradigms in response to the pandemic.

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has proposed some guidelines regarding states’ obligation to fulfill economic and social rights: availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality. These four interrelated elements are essential to the right to health. They serve as a framework to evaluate states’ performance in relation to their obligation to fulfill these rights. In the context of this pandemic, it is worthwhile to raise the following questions: What can governments and nonstate actors do to avoid further marginalizing or stigmatizing this and other vulnerable populations? How can health justice and human rights-based approaches ground an effective response to the pandemic now and build a better world afterward? What can be done to ensure that responses to COVID-19 are respectful of the rights of African Americans? These questions demand targeted responses not just in treatment but also in prevention. The following are just some initial reflections:

First, we need to keep in mind that treating people with respect and human dignity is a fundamental obligation, and the first step in a health crisis. This includes the recognition of the inherent dignity of people, the right to self-determination, and equality for all individuals. A commitment to cure and prevent COVID-19 infections must be accompanied by a renewed commitment to restore justice and equity.

Second, we need to strike a balance between mitigation strategies and the protection of civil liberties, without destroying the economy and material supports of society, especially as they relate to minorities and vulnerable populations. As stated in the Siracusa Principles, “[state restrictions] are only justified when they support a legitimate aim and are: provided for by law, strictly necessary, proportionate, of limited duration, and subject to review against abusive applications.” [38] Therefore, decisions about individual and collective isolation and quarantine must follow standards of fair and equal treatment and avoid stigma and discrimination against individuals or groups. Vulnerable populations require direct consideration with regard to the development of policies that can also protect and secure their inalienable rights.

Third, long-term solutions require properly identifying and addressing the underlying obstacles to the fulfillment of the right to health, particularly as they affect the most vulnerable. For example, we need to design policies aimed at providing universal health coverage, paid family leave, and sick leave. We need to reduce food insecurity, provide housing, and ensure that our actions protect the climate. Moreover, we need to strengthen mental health and substance abuse services, since this pandemic is affecting people’s mental health and exacerbating ongoing issues with mental health and chemical dependency. As noted earlier, violations of the human rights principles of equality and nondiscrimination were already present in US society prior to the pandemic. However, the pandemic has caused “an unprecedented combination of adversities which presents a serious threat to the mental health of entire populations, and especially to groups in vulnerable situations.” [39] As Dainius Pūras has noted, “the best way to promote good mental health is to invest in protective environments in all settings.” [40] These actions should take place as we engage in thoughtful conversations that allow us to assess the situation, to plan and implement necessary interventions, and to evaluate their effectiveness.

Finally, it is important that we collect meaningful, systematic, and disaggregated data by race, age, gender, and class. Such data are useful not only for promoting public trust but for understanding the full impact of this pandemic and how different systems of inequality intersect, affecting the lived experiences of minority groups and beyond. It is also important that such data be made widely available, so as to enhance public awareness of the problem and inform interventions and public policies.

In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.” [41] More than 54 years later, African Americans still suffer from injustices that are at the basis of income and health disparities. We know from previous experiences that epidemics place increased demands on scarce resources and enormous stress on social and economic systems.

A deeper understanding of the social determinants of health in the context of the current crisis, and of the role that these factors play in mediating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on African Americans’ health outcomes, increases our awareness of the indivisibility of all human rights and the collective dimension of the right to health. We need a more explicit equity agenda that encompasses both formal and substantive equality. [42] Besides nondiscrimination and equality, participation and accountability are equally crucial.

Unfortunately, as suggested by the limited available data, African American communities and other minorities in the United States are bearing the brunt of the current pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis has served to unmask higher vulnerabilities and exposure among people of color. A thorough reflection on how to close this gap needs to start immediately. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic is more than just a health crisis—it is disrupting and affecting every aspect of life (including family life, education, finances, and agricultural production)—it requires a multisectoral approach. We need to build stronger partnerships among the health care sector and other social and economic sectors. Working collaboratively to address the many interconnected issues that have emerged or become visible during this pandemic—particularly as they affect marginalized and vulnerable populations—offers a more effective strategy.

Moreover, as Delan Devakumar et al. have noted:

the strength of a healthcare system is inseparable from broader social systems that surround it. Health protection relies not only on a well-functioning health system with universal coverage, which the US could highly benefit from, but also on social inclusion, justice, and solidarity. In the absence of these factors, inequalities are magnified and scapegoating persists, with discrimination remaining long after. [43]

This current public health crisis demonstrates that we are all interconnected and that our well-being is contingent on that of others. A renewed and healthy society is possible only if governments and public authorities commit to reducing vulnerability and the impact of ill-health by taking steps to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to health. [44] It requires that government and nongovernment actors establish policies and programs that promote the right to health in practice. [45] It calls for a shared commitment to justice and equality for all.

Maritza Vasquez Reyes, MA, LCSW, CCM, is a PhD student and Research and Teaching Assistant at the UConn School of Social Work, University of Connecticut, Hartford, USA.

Please address correspondence to the author. Email: [email protected].

Competing interests: None declared.

Copyright © 2020 Vasquez Reyes. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

[1] “Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest map and case count,” New York Times (October 10, 2020). Available at

[2] World Health Organization Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2008), p. 1.

[3] S. Hertel and L. Minkler, Economic rights: Conceptual, measurement, and policy issues (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007); S. Hertel and K. Libal, Human rights in the United States: Beyond exceptionalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); D. Forsythe, Human rights in international relations , 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

[4] Danish Institute for Human Rights, National action plans on business and human rights (Copenhagen: Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2014).

[5] J. R. Blau and A. Moncada, Human rights: Beyond the liberal vision (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005).

[6] J. R. Blau. “Human rights: What the United States might learn from the rest of the world and, yes, from American sociology,” Sociological Forum 31/4 (2016), pp. 1126–1139; K. G. Young and A. Sen, The future of economic and social rights (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

[7] Young and Sen (see note 6).

[8] S. Dickman, D. Himmelstein, and S. Woolhandler, “Inequality and the health-care system in the USA,” Lancet , 389/10077 (2017), p. 1431.

[9] S. Artega, K. Orgera, and A. Damico, “Changes in health insurance coverage and health status by race and ethnicity, 2010–2018 since the ACA,” KFF (March 5, 2020). Available at

[10] H. Sohn, “Racial and ethnic disparities in health insurance coverage: Dynamics of gaining and losing coverage over the life-course,” Population Research and Policy Review 36/2 (2017), pp. 181–201.

[11] Atlantic Monthly Group, COVID tracking project . Available at . 

[12] “Why the African American community is being hit hard by COVID-19,” Healthline (April 13, 2020). Available at

[13] World Health Organization, 25 questions and answers on health and human rights (Albany: World Health Organization, 2002).

[14] Ibid; Hertel and Libal (see note 3).

[17] Z. Bailey, N. Krieger, M. Agénor et al., “Structural racism and health inequities in the USA: Evidence and interventions,” Lancet 389/10077 (2017), pp. 1453–1463.

[20] US Census. Available at

[21] M. Simms, K. Fortuny, and E. Henderson, Racial and ethnic disparities among low-income families (Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Publications, 2009).

[23] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Equity Considerations and Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups (2020). Available at

[24] Artega et al. (see note 9).

[25] K. Allen, “More than 50% of homeless families are black, government report finds,” ABC News (January 22, 2020). Available at

[26] A. Carson, Prisoners in 2018 (US Department of Justice, 2020). Available at

[27] United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 14, The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, UN Doc. E/C.12/2000/4 (2000).

[28] J. J. Amon, “COVID-19 and detention,” Health and Human Rights 22/1 (2020), pp. 367–370.

[30] L. Pirtle and N. Whitney, “Racial capitalism: A fundamental cause of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic inequities in the United States,” Health Education and Behavior 47/4 (2020), pp. 504–508.

[31] Ibid; R. Sampson, “The neighborhood context of well-being,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 46/3 (2003), pp. S53–S64.

[32] C. Walsh, “Covid-19 targets communities of color,” Harvard Gazette (April 14, 2020). Available at

[33] B. Lovelace Jr., “White House officials worry the coronavirus is hitting African Americans worse than others,” CNBC News (April 7, 2020). Available at

[34] K. Ahmad, E. W. Chen, U. Nazir, et al., “Regional variation in the association of poverty and heart failure mortality in the 3135 counties of the United States,” Journal of the American Heart Association 8/18 (2019).

[35] D. Desierto, “We can’t breathe: UN OHCHR experts issue joint statement and call for reparations” (EJIL Talk), Blog of the European Journal of International Law (June 5, 2020). Available at

[36] International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, G. A. Res. 2106 (XX) (1965), art. 2.

[37] A. Chapman, Global health, human rights and the challenge of neoliberal policies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), p. 17.

[38] N. Sun, “Applying Siracusa: A call for a general comment on public health emergencies,” Health and Human Rights Journal (April 23, 2020).

[39] D. Pūras, “COVID-19 and mental health: Challenges ahead demand changes,” Health and Human Rights Journal (May 14, 2020).

[41] M. Luther King Jr, “Presentation at the Second National Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights,” Chicago, March 25, 1966.

[42] Chapman (see note 35).

[43] D. Devakumar, G. Shannon, S. Bhopal, and I. Abubakar, “Racism and discrimination in COVID-19 responses,” Lancet 395/10231 (2020), p. 1194.

[44] World Health Organization (see note 12).

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  • Essays on the Post-COVID-19 World

How will/should the world change? The corona crisis as an interdisciplinary challenge

by  Véronique Zanetti (ZiF Bielefeld, Germany),  G. Ary Plons ki (UBIAS, IEA São Paulo, Brazil) and  Britta Padberg (ZiF Bielefeld, Germany) | Originally posted on the blog  Interdisciplinarity

Heavily shaken by the corona pandemics many of us are currently thinking about how we could contribute to overcome this unprecedented situation. The COVID-19 crisis not only challenges disease control and crisis management, but may also have long-term and far-reaching impacts on states, societies and international cooperation. There are increasing indications that the world will look different after the crisis and that globalization will be questioned in many areas. According to these observations, the COVID-19 crisis would mark a turning point. In times of deep uncertainty, science is asked to look to the future and to flank a rational discourse about how to react to the current global crisis, and therefore now better cope with other tantamount global challenges such as the climate change.

Since this challenge is genuinely interdisciplinary, Institutes for Advanced Studies are rich pools to fish for visionary ideas and scientific observations. We are very happy that a number of distinguished and young scholars from different fields and countries agreed to write short essays on how the world will change and how it should change. The pieces will be posted bit by bit, two texts per week. Since science and art make a good couple in developing a good sensorium for tectonic shifts we also asked the comic artist Oliver Grajewski to complement and contrast the academic way of thinking. He will deliver one short comic series each week.

We hope that the blog will contribute to sketching out ideas of a world that is more sustainable, fairer and fit for the future and are very much looking forward to lively discussions.

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4 Free Essays About the Impacts of Covid-19

Feb 19, 2023

body of essay about covid 19

Are you looking for Covid-19 Impact Essay Samples? In that case, you've come to the perfect place; check out these fantastic examples!


Since the worldwide coronavirus epidemic emerged last year, people's lives have been severely disrupted. There may be a perception that people have acclimated to the situation better since then, but in reality, it continues to be a major source of tension around the globe. In spite of all the disasters that have occurred in the real world, COVID-19 will be remembered as a true test of human resilience by sociologists.

The unexpected nature of the event provided a unique window into the interplay between the healthcare sector, the government, and the economy. COVID-19 draws attention to the gravity of preexisting issues including wealth inequality and public health concerns, both of which have the potential to become more widespread in the near future. Therefore, it is essential to develop the specifics of the strategy for mitigating the effects of a pandemic.

As well as physical injury, the epidemic also caused a great deal of mental suffering. As a result of awakening subconscious reactions to commonplace circumstances, it has revealed numerous buried memories of childhood trauma, emotional pain, and family fights. Not only that, but people are still reeling from the horrible incidents that marked the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Stress levels among both young and old people therefore significantly increase because of the pandemic, which has a positive effect on mental health. , a natural language processing tool, can quickly analyse any data and generate interesting essay topics in a matter of minutes. 

4 Examples of Essay on the Impacts of Covid-19

Impact of covid-19 on people’s lives.

Since last year, when the worldwide coronavirus pandemic first appeared, individuals have seen major disruptions to their daily routines. Since then, it may appear like people have adjusted to the situation better, but it still causes a lot of stress in the world today. Even with all the catastrophes in the real world, sociologists will look back on COVID-19 as a true test of humanity.

Because it came out of nowhere, we got a rare glimpse at how the healthcare industry, politics, and the economy all interact with one another. COVID-19 highlights the severity of existing problems like income disparity, public health concerns, and others that may soon become more widespread. So, it's crucial to work out the details of the mitigation strategy so that people can be ready to deal with the consequences of a pandemic.

The pandemic did not just spread bodily harm; it also produced widespread mental anguish. It has disclosed many repressed childhood traumas, emotional exhaustion, and family disputes as a result of triggering subconscious responses to everyday situations. Moreover, people are still dealing with the aftermath of the tragic events that occurred at the start of the COVID-19 epidemic. As a result, the pandemic improves people's mental health, with stress levels among both young and old rising dramatically.

As soon as the pandemic broke out, people allegedly only cared about getting their most fundamental needs met. The majority of people eventually developed enough ego and superego to recognise that merely surviving wasn't enough. To better themselves, some people took up exercise and a healthy diet, while others turned to spiritual practices like meditation and prayer. Two camps emerged amongst humanity: those in search of fresh viewpoints, and those without any.

Because of the widespread effects of the pandemic, sociological and social psychology theories of human development must inform any recovery strategy. Keep in mind, first, that people are extremely susceptible to new risks and especially vulnerable to the depletion of their mental health. Thus, the country should give psychological aid so that its citizens do not endure stress. Additionally, one needs to exercise restraint and discipline in order to keep themselves healthy.

This means they may finally begin to take care of themselves by engaging in activities such as exercising, eating right, unwinding, and engaging in their favourite hobbies. As a result of their ability to aid in the processing of negative emotions, spiritual practices like meditation and prayer can be a source of great psychological solace. In the end, the most important component of reducing the symptoms of COVID-19 is practising good hygiene and strictly adhering to any restrictions put in place.

The worldwide epidemic compelled individuals to alter their ways of life, affected every aspect of society, and resulted in significant distress on both the individual and collective levels. The consequences of the coronavirus can be lessened for individuals and communities by the provision of material aid, the provision of psychological assistance, and the development of self-discipline. Despite the plan's apparent lack of sophistication, it's important to keep in mind that individuals can have a significant impact on society simply by altering their routines.

Impact of Covid-19 on the Daily Lifestyle of People

Since it began, the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has caused a significant number of deaths around the world. During the height of the coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic, public health, food systems, people's livelihoods, and the global economy were all put to the test in ways never seen before. The ensuing economic and social upheaval was catastrophic. This pandemic has claimed the lives of millions, along with their loved ones. Extreme poverty threatens tens of millions of lives, and the number of undernourished people, presently estimated at about 690 million, might rise by as much as 132 million by the end of 2021.

The covid pandemics cause the closure of millions of small and medium-sized businesses. People are trying to find work as the unemployment rate rises. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed. It is estimated that over half of the world's working population could lose their jobs in the next year. Because of starvation and malnutrition, most of them have lost their means of subsistence and are now dying. Workers in the informal economy are particularly at risk during the epidemic because they have little or no access to social protections. They have lost access to productive assets and are unable to receive adequate medical care. Many of these workers are unable to provide for their families since they cannot work during lockdowns.

Due to the pandemic, the entire food supply has suffered. Farmers and merchants are unable to buy and sell their goods due to the closing of borders, trade restrictions, and containment measures. Constant disruptions to domestic and international food supply systems have been caused by the pandemic, making it harder for people to eat well. Effects of the Corona on Human Life Essay

There has been a massive loss of employment as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, and millions more people have had their livelihoods threatened. When primary earners lose their employment, their families often go hungry. They get sick and die because they can't afford to see a doctor. Nutrition and food security for millions of women and men in developing nations are in jeopardy. The covid-19 epidemic has had the most devastating effects on the world's most vulnerable peoples, including small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples.

Countless agricultural labourers who feed the world endure extreme poverty, starvation, and poor health on a regular basis. They are subjected to physical violence, sexual harassment, and other forms of mistreatment. Their income is inconsistent and low, and they have no social support system, so they are driven to keep working despite the dangers it poses to them and their children.

In addition, when people's income drops, they may turn to destructive coping mechanisms including selling possessions in a panic, taking out predatory loans, or employing children. This is an especially serious problem for migrant farm workers. Because their means of transportation, workplace, and living arrangements all pose potential dangers. Many governmental aid programmes are inaccessible to them.

Impact of Covid-19 on Education

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the world's educational system. In addition to high school and elementary school students, this pandemic has also affected college and university students. Moreover, many children in academic settings are impacted, particularly those who already struggle with health issues like diabetes and heart disease. Many of them don't go to school because they're sick or staying at home.

To begin with, the students did not receive any kind of instruction or schooling. Many schools were forced to close due to the pandemic, keeping pupils at home. Many students who did not have access to books at home were given printed homework and class notes during this time, but many were unable to study effectively without their teachers' direction. Second, since they lacked both emotional and social support, the students struggled with mental health problems like stress, sadness, and stress. Many of them stressed over the pupils and the school as they studied alone.

Third, the family's financial situation was precarious. Despite the unexpected shutdown of schools, parents had to find ways to keep their children in school. In an effort to prevent their children from forgetting what they had learned at school, many parents looked for after-school tutoring programmes. As a final point, many students did not have access to technology in their own homes. Most students were unable to engage in remote learning while at home because they lacked the means to do so, including television, radio, computers, the internet, and data. Many pupils did not have access to the instructional programming that was broadcast on televisions, radios, and numerous social media platforms.

The advent of cutting-edge technologies and a more flexible integrated approach to teaching are only two of the numerous positive and bad outcomes of this epidemic. After a long period of closure, many schools reopened and kids returned to class as the health sector discovered strategies to protect the public from contracting the pandemic.

People's access to nutritious food, public health care, gainful employment, and a means of support have all been hampered by the COVID-19 problem. The human aspect of the pandemic threat must be addressed, and this requires all companies to adhere to workplace safety and health norms, guarantee access to decent work, and preserve labour rights.

Social protection should be extended towards universal health care and minimum salary assistance for those most impacted as part of immediate and unwavering action to safeguard lives and livelihoods. Members of this group include people who toil away in the shadows of the economy, earning meagre wages and benefits. More deliberate steps need to be taken to implement various forms of assistance, such as money transfers, child allowances, nutritious school meals, housing and food aid, employment support, financial relief for micro, small, and medium-sized businesses, and so on. It's crucial that governments collaborate closely with businesses and employees when formulating and enforcing such regulations and programmes.

The root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition must be addressed first, such as rural poverty and better-paying jobs in the rural economy, expanding social welfare to all, and promoting safe migratory routes.

Now is the time for people all across the world to stand up and help those in need, especially those in developing and growing economies. It is possible to end the coronavirus epidemic if all countries work together. Covid 19 must be eradicated worldwide, so international cooperation is crucial. If the virus is allowed to persist in any country, it will eventually spread to the rest of the world. Therefore, cooperation is crucial if we are to achieve complete victory over covid-19. Furthermore, we need to create long-term sustainable policies to deal with the problems plaguing the health sector worldwide. Essay about the effects of the corona on human life.

Finally, in order to effectively combat the destruction of the environment, pollutants, climate change, and global warming, we must reconsider the future of our environment. Then and only then can we ensure everyone's sustenance, employment, food production, and health. The dangers that coronavirus poses to people will also be lessened in this way.

Positive Impact of Covid-19 on the World

The impact of COVID-19 on human life and the economy is horrifying and cannot be denied. It's easy to lose hope with rising rates of illness, mortality, and unemployment practically everywhere on Earth. Despite the horrific nature of the situation, there are positive consequences that may benefit the world and humanity in the long run.

1. The Environment

The environmental impact is the first plus side of COVID-19. Due to a worldwide decrease in carbon emissions and the virtual end of air travel, the Earth has had a chance to recover.

Between January and March in China, the percentage of days with healthy air quality rose by 85.0% across 337 cities. After years of pollution, the once-pretty waterways of Venice are starting to seem pristine now that most tourists have left. In other regions of the world, wildlife is making a comeback in other large cities, and biodiversity is gradually regaining ground.

Because of the coronavirus, people are also hoping for a reduction in war and armed conflict. As the globe faces a shared enemy in COVID-19, the United Nations has called for an end to all conflicts. "It's time to put the armed conflict on lockdown," said Secretary-General António Guterres. Since adopting the new "business as unusual" mentality, several companies have had to rebrand themselves.

Furthermore, ABC reports that the Saudis have announced an end to hostilities with the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Even as conflict exists in many parts of the Middle East, a more robust lockdown may help reduce bloodshed there as well.

3. Connectedness

As a third benefit, people will feel more connected to one another and their community. As social creatures, we struggle with self-isolation because of our need for meaningful connections with others.

But individuals everywhere are developing innovative solutions to the problem of isolation. Among the countries hardest hit is Italy, where residents are coming together to make music on their balconies using a variety of instruments and voices. A socially distant population is leading street dance parties.

The Facebook group The Kindness Pandemic, for example, sees hundreds of new entries every day as people use the site to communicate with one another. Everywhere you go, you can see a surge of people using their time and talents to help others in some way, either formally or informally.

4. Innovation

Significant market disruption brought on by COVID-19 has resulted in unprecedented levels of innovation. Many companies have had to adopt a "business as usual" mindset since the shutdown. This includes gin distilleries creating hand sanitisers and cafes expanding their offerings to include takeout (some of which also sell milk or face masks). Providing their products and services online was a need for many companies, forcing them to quickly adopt digital transformation. It's possible that some companies will leverage this surge of innovation to radically revamp their operations and enter new or existing markets.

5. Corporate Responsibility

A new era of CSR is being ushered in by the coronavirus (CSR). Companies' commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and their engagement with communities, employees, consumers, and the environment have been put to the test by the global epidemic. Many parents are learning about their children's interests, skills, and knowledge as home-schooling becomes the norm.

Businesses are helping those afflicted by the coronavirus by contributing money, food, and medical supplies. Free coffee from McDonald's Australia and millions of masks from Johnson & Johnson are just two examples of what others are giving to healthcare personnel.

Companies like Woolworths, which has introduced a special shopping hour for seniors and people with disabilities, and Optus, which is providing free mobile data to its members so that they can remain online, are just two examples of many that are helping their consumers.

6. Reimagined Education

Greater educational reform is the sixth advantageous outcome. It's true that a lot of that happened by necessity rather than design. As classrooms throughout the world close, many educators are responding by embracing technology to provide students with access to online courses, interactive learning materials, and opportunities for independent study.

Involved on a worldwide scale, we are conducting one of the largest-ever experiments in reshaping education at all levels. With more and more families opting to teach their kids at home, many adults are gaining a firsthand glimpse into their kids' academic and extracurricular pursuits. Also, colleges are at the forefront of remote learning, employing cutting-edge methods to keep students interested. Virtual and augmented reality is being used by certain schools to give pupils a taste of the real world as a means of piquing their interest, keeping their attention, and preparing them for the workforce.

7. Gratitude

A refreshed appreciation and gratitude is COVID-19's seventh and final presentation. It has given us a fresh look at the things we've always taken for granted: our independence, spare time, social media, transportation, job, and friends and family. No one has ever questioned how their current way of life may be ripped from them without warning.

Death, disease, and a slumping global economy are the heavy price you pay for all of these benefits. We must not lose sight of the gifts that may emerge out of this crisis, as painful and terrifying it may be. All of this loses its importance if we disregard them.

To maintain the good environmental effect, peace, togetherness, innovation, business ethics, redesigned education, and appreciation, it will be up to us to transform ourselves and our system.

The pandemic of COVID-19 has had far-reaching effects, impacting everything from national economies to people's emotional well-being. In addition, it has demonstrated how unprepared governments, businesses, and individuals are to deal with a pandemic. Just as there are both positive and bad effects of anything, so is Covid-19. Let's say a prayer that this kind of pandemic never happens again.

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Essay on COVID-19 Pandemic

As a result of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, daily life has been negatively affected, impacting the worldwide economy. Thousands of individuals have been sickened or died as a result of the outbreak of this disease. When you have the flu or a viral infection, the most common symptoms include fever, cold, coughing up bone fragments, and difficulty breathing, which may progress to pneumonia. It’s important to take major steps like keeping a strict cleaning routine, keeping social distance, and wearing masks, among other things. This virus’s geographic spread is accelerating (Daniel Pg 93). Governments restricted public meetings during the start of the pandemic to prevent the disease from spreading and breaking the exponential distribution curve. In order to avoid the damage caused by this extremely contagious disease, several countries quarantined their citizens. However, this scenario had drastically altered with the discovery of the vaccinations. The research aims to investigate the effect of the Covid-19 epidemic and its impact on the population’s well-being.

There is growing interest in the relationship between social determinants of health and health outcomes. Still, many health care providers and academics have been hesitant to recognize racism as a contributing factor to racial health disparities. Only a few research have examined the health effects of institutional racism, with the majority focusing on interpersonal racial and ethnic prejudice Ciotti et al., Pg 370. The latter comprises historically and culturally connected institutions that are interconnected. Prejudice is being practiced in a variety of contexts as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In some ways, the outbreak has exposed pre-existing bias and inequity.

Thousands of businesses are in danger of failure. Around 2.3 billion of the world’s 3.3 billion employees are out of work. These workers are especially susceptible since they lack access to social security and adequate health care, and they’ve also given up ownership of productive assets, which makes them highly vulnerable. Many individuals lose their employment as a result of lockdowns, leaving them unable to support their families. People strapped for cash are often forced to reduce their caloric intake while also eating less nutritiously (Fraser et al, Pg 3). The epidemic has had an impact on the whole food chain, revealing vulnerabilities that were previously hidden. Border closures, trade restrictions, and confinement measures have limited farmer access to markets, while agricultural workers have not gathered crops. As a result, the local and global food supply chain has been disrupted, and people now have less access to healthy foods. As a consequence of the epidemic, many individuals have lost their employment, and millions more are now in danger. When breadwinners lose their jobs, become sick, or die, the food and nutrition of millions of people are endangered. Particularly severely hit are the world’s poorest small farmers and indigenous peoples.

Infectious illness outbreaks and epidemics have become worldwide threats due to globalization, urbanization, and environmental change. In developed countries like Europe and North America, surveillance and health systems monitor and manage the spread of infectious illnesses in real-time. Both low- and high-income countries need to improve their public health capacities (Omer et al., Pg 1767). These improvements should be financed using a mix of national and foreign donor money. In order to speed up research and reaction for new illnesses with pandemic potential, a global collaborative effort including governments and commercial companies has been proposed. When working on a vaccine-like COVID-19, cooperation is critical.

The epidemic has had an impact on the whole food chain, revealing vulnerabilities that were previously hidden. Border closures, trade restrictions, and confinement measures have limited farmer access to markets, while agricultural workers have been unable to gather crops. As a result, the local and global food supply chain has been disrupted, and people now have less access to healthy foods (Daniel et al.,Pg 95) . As a consequence of the epidemic, many individuals have lost their employment, and millions more are now in danger. When breadwinners lose their jobs, the food and nutrition of millions of people are endangered. Particularly severely hit are the world’s poorest small farmers and indigenous peoples.

While helping to feed the world’s population, millions of paid and unpaid agricultural laborers suffer from high levels of poverty, hunger, and bad health, as well as a lack of safety and labor safeguards, as well as other kinds of abuse at work. Poor people, who have no recourse to social assistance, must work longer and harder, sometimes in hazardous occupations, endangering their families in the process (Daniel Pg 96). When faced with a lack of income, people may turn to hazardous financial activities, including asset liquidation, predatory lending, or child labor, to make ends meet. Because of the dangers they encounter while traveling, working, and living abroad; migrant agricultural laborers are especially vulnerable. They also have a difficult time taking advantage of government assistance programs.

The pandemic also has a significant impact on education. Although many educational institutions across the globe have already made the switch to online learning, the extent to which technology is utilized to improve the quality of distance or online learning varies. This level is dependent on several variables, including the different parties engaged in the execution of this learning format and the incorporation of technology into educational institutions before the time of school closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many years, researchers from all around the globe have worked to determine what variables contribute to effective technology integration in the classroom Ciotti et al., Pg 371. The amount of technology usage and the quality of learning when moving from a classroom to a distant or online format are presumed to be influenced by the same set of variables. Findings from previous research, which sought to determine what affects educational systems ability to integrate technology into teaching, suggest understanding how teachers, students, and technology interact positively in order to achieve positive results in the integration of teaching technology (Honey et al., 2000). Teachers’ views on teaching may affect the chances of successfully incorporating technology into the classroom and making it a part of the learning process.

In conclusion, indeed, Covid 19 pandemic have affected the well being of the people in a significant manner. The economy operation across the globe have been destabilized as most of the people have been rendered jobless while the job operation has been stopped. As most of the people have been rendered jobless the living conditions of the people have also been significantly affected. Besides, the education sector has also been affected as most of the learning institutions prefer the use of online learning which is not effective as compared to the traditional method. With the invention of the vaccines, most of the developed countries have been noted to stabilize slowly, while the developing countries have not been able to vaccinate most of its citizens. However, despite the challenge caused by the pandemic, organizations have been able to adapt the new mode of online trading to be promoted.

Ciotti, Marco, et al. “The COVID-19 pandemic.”  Critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences  57.6 (2020): 365-388.

Daniel, John. “Education and the COVID-19 pandemic.”  Prospects  49.1 (2020): 91-96.

Fraser, Nicholas, et al. “Preprinting the COVID-19 pandemic.”  BioRxiv  (2021): 2020-05.

Omer, Saad B., Preeti Malani, and Carlos Del Rio. “The COVID-19 pandemic in the US: a clinical update.”  Jama  323.18 (2020): 1767-1768.

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