Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-7-2021

Faculty Advisor(s)

Jason Douglas


Underserved low-income communities of color in the U.S. have endured an unequal burden of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. This pattern of pandemic-related health disparities has been pervasive throughout history. However, no known studies have simultaneously examined social and biological factors that contribute to these concerning health disparities. Therefore, this paper aims to bridge the gap by employing a scoping literature review of (1) the deleterious impacts of systemic racism on COVID-19-related outcomes; and (2) the cellular and molecular mechanisms connecting COVID-19 and hypertension (a comorbidity known to exacerbate COVID-19 severity). My findings indicate that systemic racism manifests in inequitable access to education, which is a significant driver of COVID-19-related racial and ethnic health disparities. Further, policies and practices stemming from systemic racism and associated allostatic load may contribute to the increase of hypertension among racial and ethnic minority communities, thus further contributing to COVID-19 severity within these populations. In addition, this scoping literature review revealed that common anti-hypertensive drugs (ACEI and ARBs) did not increase the chances of contracting COVID-19 or increase its severity. These drugs increase the amount and improve the efficiency of the ACE-2 receptor, the same receptor that COVID-19 uses to gain access into human cells. The drugs do not increase the efficiency of the receptors in the respiratory system where COVID-19 infects. It is concluded through this review that these health disparities do not stem from the connection between hypertension and increased risk of COVID-19 contraction for people of color; instead, racial and ethnic COVID-19 related mortality and morbidity disparities are a function of systemic racism. We must now shift our focus and research to the inequality that systemic racism has caused in this pandemic. Policies must be enacted that provide equitable access to education to improve the health outcomes in low-income communities of color.


Presented at the virtual Spring 2021 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.

This scholarship is part of the Chapman University COVID-19 Archives.