Washington: Institutional racism contributes to why African-Americans have been hit harder than the whites in the US amid the COVID-19 pandemic, White House health advisor Anthony Fauci has said.
"Obviously the African-American community has suffered from racism for a very, very long period of time," Xinhua news agency reported on Friday citing Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as saying.
He made the remarks while testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"And I cannot imagine that that has not contributed to the conditions that they find themselves in, economically and otherwise," he said in response to a question by Illinois Democrat Bobby Rush regarding the virus' toll on black people.
Because of economic and other considerations, jobs that the majority of African-Americans undertake do not allow them to protect themselves by working online, posing "a greater risk of infection from work", the specialist explained.
Compared with white communities, the African-American population is "clearly disproportionately" exposed to the underlying co-morbid conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, chronic lung disease and kidney disease, Fauci noted.
"So unfortunately we have a situation where it's sort of a double whammy of a negative capability of them to respond through no fault of their own, because of underlying conditions," he said.
Fauci's remarks come after federal government data revealed earlier this week that African-Americans were nearly four times more likely than the US' white population to be hospitalized with COVID-19.