Britain Reviewing Racial Bias in Pulse Oximeters Related to COVID Deaths

In Summary

The Health Secretary in Britain is investigating the role racial bias in pulse oximeters played in the disproportionate COVID-19 deaths of Black and Asian people.  

The British government is investigating the role racial bias played in some medical devices as Black and Asian people died disproportionately from COVID-19.  

According to the Associated Press, Britain’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the pandemic highlighted health disparities along the lines of race and gender.  

RELATED: Black People Less Likely to Receive Accommodations Post-COVID 

Javid said one-third of people admitted to intensive care units in Britain at the height of the pandemic were people who were Black and part of ethnic minorities. Data also showed that in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black and South Asian residents in the country had higher death rates than their white counterparts.  

RELATED: First Black Secretary of State Colin Powell Dies From COVID Complications  

Research revealed what Javid is calling a “systemic” worldwide issue with pulse oximeters, a test used to measure blood oxygen levels. He said the tests do not work as well on people with darker skin tones. “Now, I’m not saying this was deliberate by anyone, I think it’s just, it’s a system issue potentially, with medical devices and it may go even further than that with medical textbooks, for example,” Javid said.  

A December 2020 article from The New England Journal of Medicine published results from a study on pulse oximeters. It found that “reliance on pulse oximetry to triage patients and adjust supplemental oxygen levels may place Black patients at increased risk for hypoxemia.”  

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says The ‘Undeniable Effects of Racism’ Made COVID-19 Worse 

Javid hopes to work with United States Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and officials from other countries to eliminate bias in the health system.  

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that as early as Summer 2020, Hispanic Americans, American Indian or Alaska Natives and Black Americans had higher rates of COVID-19 cases compared to white Americans. Data from the COVID Tracking Project also revealed Black people have died from COVID-19 at rates 1.4 times higher than that of white people.  

RELATED: Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine Booster Shots Cleared by FDA 

Latest in Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus Pandemic

President Biden Announces Travel Ban in Response to Omicron COVID-19 Variant

Coronavirus Pandemic

Unvaxxed Aaron Rodgers and Kyrie Irving: What Is the Difference?

Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19 Pills Drastically Reduce Hospitalizations and Deaths

Coronavirus Pandemic

Vaccine Mandate for Businesses Set for Jan. 4 Deadline

Coronavirus Pandemic

FDA Supports Pfizer’s Low-Dose COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids

Coronavirus Pandemic

Protesters Storm Brooklyn Nets Arena to Support Unvaccinated Kyrie