MADISON — Some conservatives are taking aim at policies that allow doctors to consider race as a risk factor when allocating scarce COVID-19 treatments, saying the protocols discriminate against white people.
The wave of infections brought on by the omicron variant and a shortage of treatments have focused attention on the policies.
Medical experts say the opposition is misleading.
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Health officials have long said there is a strong case for considering race as one of many risk factors in treatment decisions.
And there is no evidence that race alone is being used to decide who gets medicine.
“You have to pick who comes first,” JP Leider, a senior fellow in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota, said. “The problem is we have extremely conclusive evidence that (minorities) across the United States are having worse COVID outcomes compared to white folks. ... Sometimes it’s acceptable to consider things like race and ethnicity when making decisions about when resources get allocated at a societal level.”
Considerable evidence suggests COVID-19 has hit certain racial and ethnic groups harder than whites, the Associated Press reported. Research shows people of color are at a higher risk of severe symptoms, are more likely to be hospitalized and are dying at younger ages from the coronavirus.
Some states, Wisconsin among them, have implemented policies that remove race as a factor. But others have allowed it.