Skip to main content

Health Security Releases Special Supplement on Systemic Racism, US Health Security, and COVID-19

Center News


June 17, 2021 – Today, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Bloomberg School of Public Health announce the publication of a new supplemental issue of the peer-reviewed journal Health Security on systemic racism, US health security, and COVID-19. The open access issue examines how systemic racism is manifested in the practice of health security in the United States and how it has affected preparedness for, responses to, and recovery from COVID-19. 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has substantially damaged population health, social fabrics, economies, and health systems across the world. In the United States, many of these costs are overwhelmingly borne by populations of color. These groups report disproportionately higher levels of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality because of ineffective response efforts and decades-long failures to address longstanding inequities in access to healthcare and other social safety net programs. More peer-reviewed research that examines the root causes of racial inequities in COVID-19-associated morbidity and mortality—and the systems that perpetuate them—is urgently needed. This new supplemental issue contributes to filling this gap. 

 The Health Security supplement includes 13 papers and 1 letter examining the relationship between systemic racism in the United States and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The 5 original articles featured address practice- and research-based analyses of socioeconomic factors associated with COVID-19 incidence, risk communication challenges, mental health disparities stemming from the pandemic, and structural factors contributing to COVID-19 inequities. Two case studies describe healthcare utilization among communities of color and the impact of xenophobic rhetoric on healthcare access. The 6 commentaries examine a broad array of topics, including strategies to improve diversity and inclusion at academic public health institutions, the effects of immigration policies and refugee health organizations on migrant health, and the role of harm reduction treatment during the COVID-19 era. Finally, the letter responds to a previously published article on mass vaccination in the United States, underscoring the importance of incorporating racial equity considerations into routine planning and preparedness efforts

“This supplement… aims to shed light on how systemic racism contributes to inequities in morbidity and mortality, curtails access to lifesaving preventive and curative measures, and undermines the health and agency of hard-hit populations of color as the United States responds to COVID-19,” write Sanjana Ravi, Lane Warmbrod, and coauthors in the special feature’s introduction. “These papers illustrate various ways in which both COVID-19 and the ensuing response at national, state, and local levels have exacerbated racial inequities and transformed public experiences of care seeking, advocacy, and wellbeing in the United States.”

The funding for this supplemental issue of Health Security was primarily provided from individual donors who support the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security through donations to the Center’s gift fund to support our general mission and COVID-19 response effort.

The guest editors of this supplement were Sanjana J. Ravi and Kelsey Lane Warmbrod, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security; Allison Barlow and Emily E. Haroz, Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health; Javier Cepeda, Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights; and Oluwaseun O. Falade-Nwulia and Tanjala S. Purnell, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity.

Read the new issue.