Those on margins will bear brunt of virus toll

While the coronavirus pandemic seems certain to extend its reach to all corners of the globe, its impact will not be felt evenly. Those on society’s margins and lower economic rungs will bear a much greater burden of the toll taken by COVID-19. That’s the urgent message from Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, and guest on this week’s Codcast.

Galea, who trained as an emergency medicine physician, has focused his career on the social determinants of health — the ways health status is closely linked to economic status and other social factors — and the coronavirus crisis is casting that relationship into stark relief.

“We cannot have a conversation about coronavirus without talking about those who are bearing most of the brunt of its consequences,” he says.

“We have a country that is best described as having health haves and health have-nots, and the health have-nots, which are, depending on how you count, the poorest 50 percent or the poorest 80 percent of the population, are going to also suffer most of the consequences of this, of the coronavirus and the approaches to mitigate it,” says Galea.