We derive a simple asymptotic approximation for the long-run case fatality rate of COVID-19 (alpha and delta variants) and show that these estimations are highly correlated to the interaction between US State median age and projected US unemployment rate (Adj. r2 = 60%). We contrast this to the high level of correlation between point (instantaneous) estimates of per state case fatality rates and the interaction of median age, population density and current unemployment rates (Adj. r2 = 50.2%). To determine whether this is caused by a “race effect,” we then analyze unemployment, race, median age and population density across US states and show that adding the interaction of African American population and unemployment explains 53.5% of the variance in COVID case fatality rates for the alpha and delta variants when considering instantaneous case fatality rate. Interestingly, when the asymptotic case fatality rate is used, the dependence on the African American population disappears, which is consistent with the fact that in the long-run COVID does not discriminate on race, but may discriminate on access to medical care which is highly correlated to employment in the US. The results provide further evidence of the impact inequality can have on case fatality rates in COVID-19 and the impact complex social, health and economic factors can have on patient survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0274470
JournalPloS one
Issue number2 February
StatePublished - Feb 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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