To contain COVID-19, many experts have recommended strategies to try to stop the virus from being passed from person to person. However, it is now clear that many factors impact how COVID-19 spreads. In the United States, we have seen COVID-19 and type 2 diabetes (and other common diseases such as high blood pressure and obesity) more common within social groups severely impacted by health inequalities. This is called a “syndemic.” A syndemic occurs when biological (medical) and social interactions increase a person’s risk of harm and worse health. The most vulnerable populations include older people, racial/ethnic minorities, and essential workers who are poorly paid. This means that, even with effective treatments or vaccines, unless governments create policies and programs to address disparities, we will never be truly safe from COVID-19.


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