Around 20% of dialysis patients in American contracted COVID-19 at some point last year

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Around one in five dialysis patients in the United States contracted COVID-19 last year, a new study suggests. 

Researchers at Stanford University looked at data from US Renal Care – the nation’s third largest dialysis organization.

They found that patients who were Hispanic, under the age of 45 and from the South were the most likely to fall ill with the virus. 

While dialysis patients were not more likely than others to test positive for Covid, the team says racial disparities in case counts that exist in the general population exist for those on dialysis as well.

A new study found 18.7% of dialysis patents contracted COVID-19 at some point from when the pandemic started (file image)

A new study found 18.7% of dialysis patents contracted COVID-19 at some point from when the pandemic started (file image)

COVID-19 rates among different ethnic and racial groups

COVID-19 rates among different ethnic and racial groups

Dialysis is a process performed on people with kidney disease, where a machine is used to extract toxic chemicals from a persons blood.

This is a function usually performed by the kidney, but people with kidney disease cannot do it naturally. 

For the study, published in JAMA Net work Open, the team looked at plasma samples from Renal Care dialysis facilities, and performed antibody tests to find whether the patient who produced the plasma ever had the virus. 

In total, they found that 18.7 percent of dialysis patents contracted COVID-19 at some point from when the pandemic started.  

Researchers note that it is estimated that less than 25 percent of the general American adult population contracted the virus, meaning there is not a large disparity between dialysis patients and others. 

The age and demographics of dialysis patients who contracted the virus match with the general population as well. 

For example, the age group most likely to contract COVID-19 among dialysis patients are those aged 18 to 44 with 25.5 percent.

COVID-19 rates among different age groups

COVID-19 rates among different age groups

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans aged 18 to 49 account for the largest portion of COVID cases in the country.

As people got older, they were increasingly less likely to contract the virus. 

These age disparities are largely because younger people are more likely to engage in social activities than their older peers – and are less likely to fear the virus. 

Hispanic dialysis patients were most likely to have contracted coronavirus as well, with 25.9 percent of them in the study testing positive for the antibodies. 

In the overall population, Hispanic Americans were also at an increased likelihood to contract the virus. 

Data from the CDC show that only Indigenous Americans were more likely to contract the virus than Hispanic people.

Not enough Indigenous Americans were included in the Stanford study for specific demographic data on the group to be included.

The South – which the researchers included as Florida, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama and Washington D.C. – was the geographic region with the highest positivity rate at 20.8 percent.

The south has also been hit the hardest among the general U.S. population, with states like Missouri – who would have been included in the data for the South if data from the state was used for the study – Arkansas, Oklahoma and Alabama suffering from high case rates and low vaccination rates at the moment. 

Researcher say the takeaway message t is that dialysis patients do not seem more likely to have contracted the virus than others last year.

However, dialysis patients are at more risk than others when they do contract the virus, though. 

Because of this risk, the researchers recommend that all patients get vaccinated when it becomes available to them.  

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