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The Covid-19 pandemic has been a deadly pandemic that has affected the whole world. It was a viral infection that affected almost everyone in some way or the other. However, the effects have been felt differently depending on various factors. As it is a virus, it will change with time, and different variants might keep coming. The virus has affected the lifestyle of human beings. The pandemic has affected the education system and the economy of the world as well. Many people have lost their lives, jobs, near and dear, etc.

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Paragraph writing on covid-19 in 100 words, paragraph writing on covid-19 in 150 words, paragraph writing on covid-19 in 200 words, paragraph writing on covid-19 in 250 words, frequently asked questions on covid-19.

Check the samples provided below before you write a paragraph on Covid-19.

Coronavirus is an infectious disease and is commonly called Covid-19. It affects the human respiratory system causing difficulty in breathing. It is a contagious disease and has been spreading across the world like wildfire. The virus was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China. In March, WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic that has been affecting the world. The virus was spreading from an infected person through coughing, sneezing, etc. Therefore, the affected people were isolated from everyone. The affected people were even isolated from their own family members and their dear ones. Other symptoms noticed in Covid – 19 patients include weariness, sore throat, muscle soreness, and loss of taste and smell.

Coronavirus, often known as Covid-19, is an infectious disease. It affects the human respiratory system, making breathing difficult. It’s a contagious disease that has been spreading like wildfire over the world. The virus was initially discovered in Wuhan, China, in 2019. Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization in March. The virus was transferred by coughing, sneezing, and other means from an infected person. As a result, the people who were affected were isolated from the rest of society. The folks who were afflicted were even separated from their own family members and loved ones. Weariness, sore throat, muscle stiffness, and loss of taste and smell are among the other complaints reported by Covid-19 individuals. Almost every individual has been affected by the virus. A lot of people have lost their lives due to the severity of the infections. The dropping of oxygen levels and the unavailability of oxygen cylinders were the primary concerns during the pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic was caused due to a man-made virus called coronavirus. It is an infectious disease that has affected millions of people’s lives. The pandemic has affected the entire world differently. It was initially diagnosed in 2019 in Wuhan, China but later, in March 2020, WHO declared that it was a pandemic that was affecting the whole world like wildfire. Covid-19 is a contagious disease. Since it is a viral disease, the virus spreads rapidly in various forms. The main symptoms of this disease were loss of smell and taste, loss of energy, pale skin, sneezing, coughing, reduction of oxygen level, etc. Therefore, all the affected people were asked to isolate themselves from the unaffected ones. The affected people were isolated from their family members in a separate room. The government has taken significant steps to ensure the safety of the people. The frontline workers were like superheroes who worked selflessly for the safety of the people. A lot of doctors had to stay away from their families and their babies for the safety of their patients and their close ones. The government has taken significant steps, and various protocols were imposed for the safety of the people. The government imposed a lockdown and shut down throughout the country.

The coronavirus was responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic. It is an infectious disease that has affected millions of people’s lives. The pandemic has impacted people all across the world in diverse ways. It was first discovered in Wuhan, China, in 2019. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed it a pandemic in March 2020, claiming that it has spread throughout the globe like wildfire. The pandemic has claimed the lives of millions of people. The virus had negative consequences for those who were infected, including the development of a variety of chronic disorders. The main symptoms of this disease were loss of smell and taste, fatigue, pale skin, sneezing, coughing, oxygen deficiency, etc. Because Covid-19 was an infectious disease, all those who were infected were instructed to segregate themselves from those who were not. The folks who were affected were separated from their families and locked in a room. The government has prioritised people’s safety. The frontline personnel were like superheroes, working tirelessly to ensure the public’s safety. For the sake of their patients’ and close relatives’ safety, many doctors had to stay away from their families and babies. The government had also taken significant steps and implemented different protocols for the protection of people.

What is meant by the Covid-19 pandemic?

The Covid-19 pandemic was a deadly pandemic that affected the lives of millions of people. A lot of people lost their lives, and some people lost their jobs and lost their entire families due to the pandemic. Many covid warriors, like doctors, nurses, frontline workers, etc., lost their lives due to the pandemic.

From where did the Covid-19 pandemic start?

The Covid-19 pandemic was initially found in Wuhan, China and later in the whole world.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

The symptoms of Covid-19 have been identified as sore throat, loss of smell and taste, cough, sneezing, reduction of oxygen level, etc.

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Perspective article, the rise and impact of covid-19 in india.

write an article in about 250 words on covid 19

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which originated in the city of Wuhan, China, has quickly spread to various countries, with many cases having been reported worldwide. As of May 8th, 2020, in India, 56,342 positive cases have been reported. India, with a population of more than 1.34 billion—the second largest population in the world—will have difficulty in controlling the transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 among its population. Multiple strategies would be highly necessary to handle the current outbreak; these include computational modeling, statistical tools, and quantitative analyses to control the spread as well as the rapid development of a new treatment. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India has raised awareness about the recent outbreak and has taken necessary actions to control the spread of COVID-19. The central and state governments are taking several measures and formulating several wartime protocols to achieve this goal. Moreover, the Indian government implemented a 55-days lockdown throughout the country that started on March 25th, 2020, to reduce the transmission of the virus. This outbreak is inextricably linked to the economy of the nation, as it has dramatically impeded industrial sectors because people worldwide are currently cautious about engaging in business in the affected regions.

Current Scenario in India

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19), was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan city, China, and later spread to many provinces in China. As of May 8th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) had documented 3,759,967 positive COVID-19 cases, and the death toll attributed to COVID-19 had reached 259,474 worldwide ( 1 ). So far, more than 212 countries and territories have confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. On January 30th, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern ( 2 ). The first SARS-CoV-2 positive case in India was reported in the state of Kerala on January 30th, 2020. Subsequently, the number of cases drastically rose. According to the press release by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on May 8th, 2020, a total of 14,37,788 suspected samples had been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, and a related testing laboratory ( 3 ). Among them, 56,342 cases tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 ( 4 ). A state-wise distribution of positive cases until May 8th, 2020, is listed in Table 1 , and the cases have been depicted on an Indian map ( Figure 1 ). Nearly 197,192 Indians have recently been repatriated from affected regions, and more than 1,393,301 passengers have been screened for SARS-CoV-2 at Indian airports ( 5 ), with 111 positive cases observed among foreign nationals ( 4 , 5 ). As of May 8th, 2020, Maharashtra, Delhi, and Gujarat states were reported to be hotspots for COVID-19 with 17,974, 5,980, and 7,012 confirmed cases, respectively. To date, 16,540 patients have recovered, and 1,886 deaths have been reported in India ( 5 ). To impose social distancing, the “Janata curfew” (14-h lockdown) was ordered on March 22nd, 2020. A further lockdown was initiated for 21 days, starting on March 25th, 2020, and the same was extended until May 3rd, 2020, but, owing to an increasing number of positive cases, the lockdown has been extended for the third time until May 17th, 2020 ( 6 ). Currently, out of 32 states and eight union territories in India, 26 states and six union territories have reported COVID-19 cases. Additionally, the health ministry has identified 130 districts as hotspot zones or red zones, 284 as orange zones (with few SARS-CoV-2 infections), and 319 as green zones (no SARS-CoV-2 infection) as of May 4th, 2020. These hotspot districts have been identified to report more than 80% of the cases across the nation. Nineteen districts in Uttar Pradesh are identified as hotspot districts, and this was followed by 14 and 12 districts in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, respectively ( 7 ). The complete lockdown was implemented in these containment zones to stop/limit community transmission ( 5 ). As of May 8th, 2020, 310 government laboratories and 111 private laboratories across the country were involved in SARS-CoV-2 testing. As per ICMR report, 14,37,788 samples were tested till date, which is 1.04 per thousand people ( 3 ).


Table 1 . Current status of reported positive coronavirus disease cases in India (State-wise).


Figure 1 . State-wise distribution of positive coronavirus disease cases displayed on an Indian geographical map.

COVID-19 and Previous Coronavirus Outbreaks

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 in several countries is similar to the previous outbreaks of SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) that emerged in 2003 and 2012 in China and Saudi Arabia, respectively ( 8 – 10 ). Coronavirus is responsible for both SARS and COVID-19 diseases; they affect the respiratory tract and cause major disease outbreaks worldwide. SARS is caused by SARS-CoV, whereas SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19. So far, there is no particular treatment available to treat SARS or COVID-19. In the current search for a COVID-19 cure, there is some evidence that point to SARS-CoV-2 being similar to human coronavirus HKU1 and 229E strains ( 11 , 12 ) even though they are new coronavirus family members. These reports suggest that humans do not have immunity to this virus, allowing its easy and rapid spread among human populations through contact with an infected person. SARS-CoV-2 is more transmissible than SARS-CoV. The two possible reasons could be (i) the viral load (quantity of virus) tends to be relatively higher in COVID-19-positive patients, especially in the nose and throat immediately after they develop symptoms, and (ii) the binding affinity of SARS-CoV-2 to host cell receptors is higher than that of SARS-CoV ( 13 , 14 ). The other comparisons between SARS and COVID-19 are tabulated in Table 2 , and references for the same are provided here ( 1 , 15 , 16 ).


Table 2 . Differences between coronavirus disease and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Impact of COVID-19 in India and the Global Economy

As per the official government guidelines, India is making preparations against the COVID-19 outbreak, and avoiding specific crisis actions or not understating its importance will have extremely severe implications. All the neighboring countries of India have reported positive COVID-19 cases. To protect against the deadly virus, the Indian government have taken necessary and strict measures, including establishing health check posts between the national borders to test whether people entering the country have the virus ( 17 ). Different countries have introduced rescue efforts and surveillance measures for citizens wishing to return from China. The lesson learned from the SARS outbreak was first that the lack of clarity and information about SARS weakened China's global standing and hampered its economic growth ( 10 , 18 – 20 ). The outbreak of SARS in China was catastrophic and has led to changes in health care and medical systems ( 18 , 20 ). Compared with China, the ability of India to counter a pandemic seems to be much lower. A recent study reported that affected family members had not visit the Wuhan market in China, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 may spread without manifesting symptoms ( 21 ). Researchers believe that this phenomenon is normal for many viruses. India, with a population of more than 1.34 billion—the second largest population in the world—will have difficulty treating severe COVID-19 cases because the country has only 49,000 ventilators, which is a minimal amount. If the number of COVID-19 cases increases in the nation, it would be a catastrophe for India ( 22 ). It would be difficult to identify sources of infection and those who come in contact with them. This would necessitate multiple strategies to handle the outbreak, including computational modeling as well as statistical and quantitative analyses, to rapidly develop new vaccines and drug treatments. With such a vast population, India's medical system is grossly inadequate. A study has shown that, owing to inadequate medical care systems, nearly 1 million people die every year in India ( 23 ). India is also engaged in trading with its nearby countries, such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Myanmar, China, and Nepal. During the financial year 2017–18 (FY2017–18), Indian regional trade amounted to nearly $12 billion, accounting for only 1.56% of its total global trade value of $769 billion. The outbreak of such viruses and their transmission would significantly affect the Indian economy. The outbreak in China could profoundly affect the Indian economy, especially in the sectors of electronics, pharmaceuticals, and logistics operations, as trade ports with China are currently closed. This was further supported by the statement by Suyash Choudhary, Head—Fixed Income, IDFC AMC, stating that GDP might decrease owing to COVID-19 ( 24 ).

Economists assume that the impact of COVID-19 on the economy will be high and negative when compared with the SARS impact during 2003. For instance, it has been estimated that the number of tourists arriving in China was much higher than that of tourists who traveled during the season when SARS emerged in 2003. This shows that COVID-19 has an effect on the tourism industry. It has been estimated that, for SARS, there was a 57 and 45% decline in yearly rail passenger and road passenger traffic, respectively ( 25 ). Moreover, when compared with the world economy 15 years ago, world economies are currently much more inter-related. It has been estimated that COVID-19 will hurt emerging market currencies and also impact oil prices ( 26 – 28 ). From the retail industry's perspective, consumer savings seem to be high. This might have an adverse effect on consumption rates, as all supply chains are likely to be affected, which in turn would have its impact on supply when compared with the demand of various necessary product items ( 29 ). This clearly proves that, based on the estimated losses due to the effect of SARS on tourism (retail sales lost around USD 12–18 billion and USD 30–100 billion was lost at a global macroeconomic level), we cannot estimate the impact of COVID-19 at this point. This will be possible only when the spread of COVID-19 is fully controlled. Until that time, any estimates will be rather ambiguous and imprecise ( 19 ). The OECD Interim economic assessment has provided briefing reports highlighting the role of China in the global supply chain and commodity markets. Japan, South Korea, and Australia are the countries that are most susceptible to adverse effects, as they have close ties with China. It has been estimated that there has been a 20% decline in car sales, which was 10% of the monthly decline in China during January 2020. This shows that even industrial production has been affected by COVID-19. So far, several factors have thus been identified as having a major economic impact: labor mobility, lack of working hours, interruptions in the global supply chain, less consumption, and tourism, and less demand in the commodity market at a global level ( 30 ), which in turn need to be adequately analyzed by industry type. Corporate leaders need to prioritize the supply chain and product line economy trends via demand from the consumer end. Amidst several debates on sustainable economy before the COVID-19 impact, it has now been estimated that India's GDP by the International Monetary Fund has been cut down to 1.9% from 5.8% for the FY21. The financial crisis that has emerged owing to the worldwide lockdown reflects its adverse effect on several industries and the global supply chain, which has resulted in the GDP dropping to 4.2% for FY20, which was previously estimated at 4.8%. Nevertheless, it has been roughly estimated that India and China will be experiencing considerable positive growth among other major economies ( 31 ).

Preparations and Preventive Measures in India

An easy way to decrease SARS-CoV-2 infection rates is to avoid virus exposure. People from India should avoid traveling to countries highly affected with the virus, practice proper hygiene, and avoid consuming food that is not home cooked. Necessary preventive measures, such as wearing a mask, regular hand washing, and avoiding direct contact with infected persons, should also be practiced. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), India, has raised awareness about the recent outbreak and taken necessary action to control COVID-19. Besides, the MOHFW has created a 24 h/7 days-a-week disease alert helpline (+91-11-23978046 and 1800-180-1104) and policy guidelines on surveillance, clinical management, infection prevention and control, sample collection, transportation, and discharging suspected or confirmed cases ( 3 , 5 ). Those who traveled from China, or other countries, and exhibited symptoms, including fever, difficulty in breathing, sore throat, cough, and breathlessness, were asked to visit the nearest hospital for a health check-up. Officials from seven different airports, including Chennai, Cochin, New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru, have been ordered to screen and monitor Indian travelers from China and other affected countries. In addition, a travel advisory was released to request the cessation of travel to affected countries, and anyone with a travel history that has included China since January 15th, 2020, would be quarantined. A centralized control room has been set up by the Delhi government at the Directorate General of Health Services, and 11 other districts have done the same. India has implemented COVID-19 travel advisory for intra- and inter-passenger aircraft restrictions. More information on additional travel advisory can be accessed with the provided link ( https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/Traveladvisory.pdf ).

India is known for its traditional medicines in the form of AYUSH (Ayurvedic, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy). The polyherbal powder NilavembuKudineer showed promising effects against dengue and chikungunya fevers in the past ( 32 ). With the outbreak of COVID-19, the ministry of AYUSH has released a press note “Advisory for Coronavirus,” mentioning useful medications to improve the immunity of the individuals ( 33 ). Currently, according to the ICMR guidelines, doctors prescribe a combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir for severe COVID-19 cases and hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 infection ( 34 , 35 ). In collaboration with the WHO, ICMR will conduct a therapeutic trial for COVID-19 in India ( 3 ). The ICMR recommends using the US-FDA-approved closed real-time RT-PCR systems, such as GeneXpert and Roche COBAS-6800/8800, which are used to diagnose chronic myeloid leukemia and melanoma, respectively ( 36 ). In addition, the TruenatTM beta CoV test on the TruelabTM workstation validated by the ICMR is recommended as a screening test. All positive results obtained on this platform need to be confirmed by confirmatory assays for SARS-CoV-2. All negative results do not require further testing. Antibody-based rapid tests were validated at NIV, Pune, and found to be satisfactory; the rapid test kits are as follows: (i) SARS-CoV-2 Antibody test (Lateral flow method): Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech, Mylan Laboratories Limited (CE-IVD); (ii) COVID-19 IgM&IgG Rapid Test: BioMedomics (CE-IVD); (iii) COVID-19 IgM/IgG Antibody Rapid Test: Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics (CEIVD); (iv) New coronavirus (COVID-19) IgG/IgM Rapid Test: Voxtur Bio Ltd, India; (v) COVID-19 IgM/IgG antibody detection card test: VANGUARD Diagnostics, India; (vi) MakesureCOVID-19 Rapid test: HLL Lifecare Limited, India; and (vii) YHLO SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG detection kit (additional equipment required): CPC, Diagnostics. As a step further, on the technological aspect, the Union Health Ministry has launched a mobile application called “AarogyaSetu” that works both on android and iOS mobile phones. This application constructs a user database for establishing an awareness network that can alert people and governments about possible COVID-19 victims ( 37 ).

Future Perspectives

Infections caused by these viruses are an enormous global health threat. They are a major cause of death and have adverse socio-economic effects that are continually exacerbated. Therefore, potential treatment initiatives and approaches need to be developed. First, India is taking necessary preventive measures to reduce viral transmission. Second, ICMR and the Ministry of AYUSH provided guidelines to use conventional preventive and treatment strategies to increase immunity against COVID-19 ( 3 , 38 ). These guidelines could help reduce the severity of the viral infection in elderly patients and increase life expectancy ( 39 ). The recent report from the director of ICMR mentioned that India would undergo randomized controlled trials using convalescent plasma of completely recovered COVID-19 patients. Convalescent plasma therapy is highly recommended, as it has provided moderate success with SARS and MERS ( 40 ); this has been rolled out in 20 health centers and will be increased this month (May 2020) ( 3 ). India has expertise in specialized medical/pharmaceutical industries with production facilities, and the government has established fast-tracking research to develop rapid diagnostic test kits and vaccines at low cost ( 41 ). In addition, the Serum Institute of India started developing a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infection ( 42 ). Until we obtain an appropriate vaccine, it is highly recommended that we screen the red zoned areas to stop further transmission of the virus. Medical college doctors in Kerala, India, implemented the low-cost WISK (Walk-in Sample Kiosk) to collect samples without direct exposure or contact ( 43 , 44 ). After Kerala, The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) developed walk-in kiosks to collect COVID-19 samples and named these as COVID-19 Sample Collection Kiosk (COVSACK) ( 45 ). After the swab collection, the testing of SARS-CoV-2 can be achieved with the existing diagnostic facility in India. This facility can be used for massive screening or at least in the red zoned areas without the need for personal protective equipment kits ( 43 , 45 ). India has attempted to broaden its research facilities and shift toward testing the mass population, as recommended by medical experts in India and worldwide ( 46 ).

Data Availability Statement

Publicly available datasets were analyzed in this study. This data can be found here: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/ and https://www.icmr.gov.in/ .

Author Contributions

SK, DK, and CD were involved in the design of the study and the acquisition, analysis, interpretation of the data, and drafting the manuscript. BC was involved in the interpretation of the data. CD supervised the entire study. The manuscript was reviewed and approved by all the authors.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


We acknowledge The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for publicly providing the details of COVID-19. The authors would like to use this opportunity to thank the management of VIT for providing the necessary facilities and encouragement to carry out this work.

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36. Health C. for D. and R. Nucleic Acid Based Tests . FDA (2020). Available online at: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/vitro-diagnostics/nucleic-acid-based-tests (accessed May 05, 2020).

37. Aarogya Setu Mobile App. MyGov.in . (2020). Available online at: https://mygov.in/aarogya-setu-app/ (accessed May 04, 2020).

PubMed Abstract

38. Vasudha V. Coronavirus Outbreak: Ayush Pushes “Traditional Cure,” Med Council Backs Modern Drugs . The Economic Times (2020). Available online at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/ayush-pushes-traditional-cure-med-council-backs-modern-drugs/articleshow/74680699.cms (accessed May 02, 2020).

39. Elfiky AA. Anti-HCV, nucleotide inhibitors, repurposing against COVID-19. Life Sci. (2020) 248:117477. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2020.117477

40. Teixeira da Silva JA. Convalescent plasma: a possible treatment of COVID-19 in India. Med J Armed Forces India . (2020). doi: 10.1016/j.mjafi.2020.04.006. [Epub ahead of print].

41. Sinha DK. COVID-19: Vaccine Development and Therapeutic Strategies . IndiaBioscience (2020). Available online at: https://indiabioscience.org/columns/general-science/covid-19-vaccine-development-and-therapeutic-strategies (accessed May 06, 2020).

42. Varghese MG, Rijal S. How India Must Prepare for a Second Wave of COVID-19 . Nature India (2020). Available online at: https://www.natureasia.com/en/nindia/article/10.1038/nindia.2020.80 (accessed May 06, 2020).

43. Koshy SM. Inspired By South Korea, Walk-In COVID-19 Test Kiosks Built In Kerala . NDTV.com (2020). Available online at: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/coronavirus-inspired-by-south-korea-walk-in-test-kiosks-built-in-keralas-ernakulam-2207119 (accessed May 06, 2020).

44. MK N. Covid-19: Kerala Hospital Installs South Korea-Like Kiosks to Collect Samples . Livemint (2020). Available online at: https://www.livemint.com/news/india/covid-19-kerala-hospital-installs-south-korea-like-kiosks-to-collect-samples-11586234679849.html (accessed May 09, 2020).

45. DRDO. Covid-19 Sample Collection Kiosk (COVSACK) . Defence Research and Development Organisation - DRDO|GoI (2020). Available online at: https://drdo.gov.in/covid-19-sample-collection-kiosk-covsack (accessed May 09, 2020).

46. Vaidyanathan G. People power: how India is attempting to slow the coronavirus. Nature. (2020) 580:442. doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-01058-5

Keywords: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, India, economy, safety measures

Citation: Kumar SU, Kumar DT, Christopher BP and Doss CGP (2020) The Rise and Impact of COVID-19 in India. Front. Med. 7:250. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2020.00250

Received: 19 March 2020; Accepted: 11 May 2020; Published: 22 May 2020.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2020 Kumar, Kumar, Christopher and Doss. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: C. George Priya Doss, georgepriyadoss@vit.ac.in

This article is part of the Research Topic

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Pathophysiology, Epidemiology, Clinical Management and Public Health Response

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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.

write an article in about 250 words on 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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), 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 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html.

[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 https://www.kff.org/disparities-policy/issue-brief/changes-in-health-coverage-by-race-and-ethnicity-since-the-aca-2010-2018/.

[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 https://covidtracking.com . 

[12] “Why the African American community is being hit hard by COVID-19,” Healthline (April 13, 2020). Available at https://www.healthline.com/health-news/covid-19-affecting-people-of-color#What-can-be-done?.

[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 https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2019/demo/p60-266.html.

[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 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/race-ethnicity.html.

[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 https://abcnews.go.com/US/50-homeless-families-black-government-report-finds/story?id=68433643.

[26] A. Carson, Prisoners in 2018 (US Department of Justice, 2020). Available at https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p18.pdf.

[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 https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/04/health-care-disparities-in-the-age-of-coronavirus/.

[33] B. Lovelace Jr., “White House officials worry the coronavirus is hitting African Americans worse than others,” CNBC News (April 7, 2020). Available at https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/07/white-house-officials-worry-the-coronavirus-is-hitting-african-americans-worse-than-others.html.

[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 https://www.ejiltalk.org/we-cant-breathe-un-ohchr-experts-issue-joint-statement-and-call-for-reparations/.

[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).

How to Write About Coronavirus in a College Essay

Students can share how they navigated life during the coronavirus pandemic in a full-length essay or an optional supplement.

Writing About COVID-19 in College Essays

Serious disabled woman concentrating on her work she sitting at her workplace and working on computer at office

Experts say students should be honest and not limit themselves to merely their experiences with the pandemic. (Getty Images)

The global impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, means colleges and prospective students alike are in for an admissions cycle like no other. Both face unprecedented challenges and questions as they grapple with their respective futures amid the ongoing fallout of the pandemic.

Colleges must examine applicants without the aid of standardized test scores for many – a factor that prompted many schools to go test-optional for now . Even grades, a significant component of a college application, may be hard to interpret with some high schools adopting pass-fail classes last spring due to the pandemic. Major college admissions factors are suddenly skewed.

"I can't help but think other (admissions) factors are going to matter more," says Ethan Sawyer, founder of the College Essay Guy, a website that offers free and paid essay-writing resources.

College essays and letters of recommendation , Sawyer says, are likely to carry more weight than ever in this admissions cycle. And many essays will likely focus on how the pandemic shaped students' lives throughout an often tumultuous 2020.

But before writing a college essay focused on the coronavirus, students should explore whether it's the best topic for them.

Writing About COVID-19 for a College Application

Much of daily life has been colored by the coronavirus. Virtual learning is the norm at many colleges and high schools, many extracurriculars have vanished and social lives have stalled for students complying with measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"For some young people, the pandemic took away what they envisioned as their senior year," says Robert Alexander, dean of admissions, financial aid and enrollment management at the University of Rochester in New York. "Maybe that's a spot on a varsity athletic team or the lead role in the fall play. And it's OK for them to mourn what should have been and what they feel like they lost, but more important is how are they making the most of the opportunities they do have?"

That question, Alexander says, is what colleges want answered if students choose to address COVID-19 in their college essay.

But the question of whether a student should write about the coronavirus is tricky. The answer depends largely on the student.

"In general, I don't think students should write about COVID-19 in their main personal statement for their application," Robin Miller, master college admissions counselor at IvyWise, a college counseling company, wrote in an email.

"Certainly, there may be exceptions to this based on a student's individual experience, but since the personal essay is the main place in the application where the student can really allow their voice to be heard and share insight into who they are as an individual, there are likely many other topics they can choose to write about that are more distinctive and unique than COVID-19," Miller says.

Opinions among admissions experts vary on whether to write about the likely popular topic of the pandemic.

"If your essay communicates something positive, unique, and compelling about you in an interesting and eloquent way, go for it," Carolyn Pippen, principal college admissions counselor at IvyWise, wrote in an email. She adds that students shouldn't be dissuaded from writing about a topic merely because it's common, noting that "topics are bound to repeat, no matter how hard we try to avoid it."

Above all, she urges honesty.

"If your experience within the context of the pandemic has been truly unique, then write about that experience, and the standing out will take care of itself," Pippen says. "If your experience has been generally the same as most other students in your context, then trying to find a unique angle can easily cross the line into exploiting a tragedy, or at least appearing as though you have."

But focusing entirely on the pandemic can limit a student to a single story and narrow who they are in an application, Sawyer says. "There are so many wonderful possibilities for what you can say about yourself outside of your experience within the pandemic."

He notes that passions, strengths, career interests and personal identity are among the multitude of essay topic options available to applicants and encourages them to probe their values to help determine the topic that matters most to them – and write about it.

That doesn't mean the pandemic experience has to be ignored if applicants feel the need to write about it.

Writing About Coronavirus in Main and Supplemental Essays

Students can choose to write a full-length college essay on the coronavirus or summarize their experience in a shorter form.

To help students explain how the pandemic affected them, The Common App has added an optional section to address this topic. Applicants have 250 words to describe their pandemic experience and the personal and academic impact of COVID-19.

"That's not a trick question, and there's no right or wrong answer," Alexander says. Colleges want to know, he adds, how students navigated the pandemic, how they prioritized their time, what responsibilities they took on and what they learned along the way.

If students can distill all of the above information into 250 words, there's likely no need to write about it in a full-length college essay, experts say. And applicants whose lives were not heavily altered by the pandemic may even choose to skip the optional COVID-19 question.

"This space is best used to discuss hardship and/or significant challenges that the student and/or the student's family experienced as a result of COVID-19 and how they have responded to those difficulties," Miller notes. Using the section to acknowledge a lack of impact, she adds, "could be perceived as trite and lacking insight, despite the good intentions of the applicant."

To guard against this lack of awareness, Sawyer encourages students to tap someone they trust to review their writing , whether it's the 250-word Common App response or the full-length essay.

Experts tend to agree that the short-form approach to this as an essay topic works better, but there are exceptions. And if a student does have a coronavirus story that he or she feels must be told, Alexander encourages the writer to be authentic in the essay.

"My advice for an essay about COVID-19 is the same as my advice about an essay for any topic – and that is, don't write what you think we want to read or hear," Alexander says. "Write what really changed you and that story that now is yours and yours alone to tell."

Sawyer urges students to ask themselves, "What's the sentence that only I can write?" He also encourages students to remember that the pandemic is only a chapter of their lives and not the whole book.

Miller, who cautions against writing a full-length essay on the coronavirus, says that if students choose to do so they should have a conversation with their high school counselor about whether that's the right move. And if students choose to proceed with COVID-19 as a topic, she says they need to be clear, detailed and insightful about what they learned and how they adapted along the way.

"Approaching the essay in this manner will provide important balance while demonstrating personal growth and vulnerability," Miller says.

Pippen encourages students to remember that they are in an unprecedented time for college admissions.

"It is important to keep in mind with all of these (admission) factors that no colleges have ever had to consider them this way in the selection process, if at all," Pippen says. "They have had very little time to calibrate their evaluations of different application components within their offices, let alone across institutions. This means that colleges will all be handling the admissions process a little bit differently, and their approaches may even evolve over the course of the admissions cycle."

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

There is a current outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease Find out more →

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Most people infected with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. However, some will become seriously ill and require medical attention. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. Anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die at any age. 

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the disease and how the virus spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by staying at least 1 metre apart from others, wearing a properly fitted mask, and washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently. Get vaccinated when it’s your turn and follow local guidance.

The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols. It is important to practice respiratory etiquette, for example by coughing into a flexed elbow, and to stay home and self-isolate until you recover if you feel unwell.

Stay informed:

To prevent infection and to slow transmission of COVID-19, do the following: 

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.

Most common symptoms:

Less common symptoms:

Serious symptoms:

Seek immediate medical attention if you have serious symptoms.  Always call before visiting your doctor or health facility. 

People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should manage their symptoms at home. 

On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days. 

Considerations for implementing and adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19

Considerations for implementing and adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19

This document is an update to the interim guidance published on 4 November 2020 entitled “Considerations in adjusting public health and social...

Preventing and mitigating COVID-19 at work: policy brief, 19 May 2021

Preventing and mitigating COVID-19 at work: policy brief, 19 May 2021

Workplaces outside of healthcare facilities can be also settings for transmission of COVID-19. Outbreaks of COVID-19 has been reported in various types...

Reducing public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals of mammalian species in traditional food markets

Reducing public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals of mammalian species in traditional...

To reduce the public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals for food in traditional food markets, WHO, OIE and UNEP have issued guidance...

COVID-19: Occupational health and safety for health workers: interim guidance, 2 February 2021

COVID-19: Occupational health and safety for health workers: interim guidance, 2 February 2021

Health workers are at the front line of the COVID-19 outbreak response and as such are exposed to different hazards that put them at risk. Occupational...

Statement on the fourteenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic

WHO welcomes data on COVID-19 in China, meeting with Minister

WHO updates COVID-19 guidelines on masks, treatments and patient care

TAG-VE statement on the meeting of 3 January on the COVID-19 situation in China

Related links

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