“The issue of equity and distribution of Paxlovid is similar to that of vaccine distribution,” she said. “You have to think about access to primary care pharmacies, especially in economically disadvantaged communities.”
Community hesitation also plays a role, Salas-Lopez noted. “These are new vaccines, new treatments, so the familiarity is not there with all of our community members, but particularly with our community members who have experienced a lack of trust in the healthcare system.
“Furthermore, guidelines for testing and vaccines and medications used to treat treatments can change rapidly, making it difficult for providers and community members to keep up with all the changes — your head is spinning,” she said.
Structural racism could also play a role, Salas-Lopez added.
A weakness of the study, she noted, is that the researchers didn’t consider prescriptions dispensed directly from walk-in clinics and drugstores, which dispensed thousands of Paxlovid doses and could have altered the results.
Salas-Lopez said that ending these inequalities is partly the responsibility of health systems.
In their health care system, they created a health equity task force to identify the health care gaps in their community. They then began outreach programs to fill those gaps.
“Health systems must work hard to address the issue of injustice,” Salas-Lopez said. “It takes a mission and a vision, and then action.”
The report, which followed the patients from January through July this year, was published in the CDCs on Oct. 28 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
For more information on COVID-19, see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Tegan Boehmer, PhD, Acting Lead, Healthy Community Design Initiative, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President, Community and Population Health, Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, NY; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly ReportOctober 28, 2022