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Risk of death is higher among the poor in Chile

Martin Bernetti / AFP / Getty Images

People under 40 living in poorer municipalities in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago, Chile, are 3.1 times more likely to die from complications associated with COVID-19 than those who live in more affluent regions. Similarly, individuals aged 41–80 living in more vulnerable areas tend to be more affected by the pandemic than people of the same age in wealthier regions, according to a study led by biologist Pamela Martinez, from the University of Illinois, USA. Martinez and her team analyzed the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the 34 municipalities of greater Santiago. They also assessed the mobility of residents in periods when the government imposed more restrictive social isolation measures. The researchers found that the mobility of those living in poor areas remained unchanged—possibly because they were unable to work from home (Science, April 27). Residents of poor areas also had less access to COVID-19 tests. The data reinforce the theory that socioeconomic disparities accentuate the impacts of the pandemic.