At VIDA, Black lives matter. As a respiratory AI company, we are entrenched in the public health impact of COVID-19, which has laid bare the racial inequities in access to healthy foods, safe working conditions, medical treatment and a host of other social determinants that negatively impact public health. Black COVID-19 fatalities are significantly greater than those of Whites in many parts of the U.S., and disproportionate to respective population representation in those geographies. According to a report in last month’s New York Times, the coronavirus is killing black and Latino people at twice the rate that it is killing white people. At the time of publication, the Times reported a preliminary death rate for black people of 20 per 100,000 as compared with 10 per 100,000 for white people, and that in New York City black people represented 28% of deaths but only 22% of the population. This was still far less than the disproportionate death:population ratio seen in a number of other U.S. cities.
Social determinants and access to healthcare are a part of the issue, as may be the disproportionate representation of people of color in frontline and essential work jobs who have been unable to stay at or work from home and therefore have an increased risk of exposure. These often lower paying jobs are also a factor in the equation of racial inequality in their perpetration of social and income classes that affect relative affordability of housing, food and healthcare. The path to overcoming injustice requires that we commit to learning and understanding, looking through a lens outside our comfort zone, showing up for people of color, and taking actions large and small, every time we see inequality perpetrated. We cannot sidestep this issue.
VIDA is committed as a company to advancing the standard of care for respiratory health, because we know it matters and because we know we can do it. Similarly, the near and long term health of our beloved communities demands we stand together and do our part in advancing the standard of care for our country.