Acute COVID-19 Disproportionately Affects BIPOC Children, Local Doctor Says



By A.L. Haynes, Contributing Writer

If you were online recently, you may have logged into the info series focused on children and the pandemic presented by the San Diego NAACP. During the first session, Dr. Sayone Thihalolipavan mentioned “multi-inflammatory syndrome”, noting it disproportionately affects Black and Brown children. But what is it and why is it affecting our children?

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), sometimes called Pediatric Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (P-MIS) or Acute COVID-19 in Children, is a condition that may appear around 2–4 weeks after the onset of COVID-19 in children and teens. New studies released this spring show that most cases of MIS-C seem to occur after asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 infections.

MIS-C symptoms look like those of the rare Kawasaki Disease, including gastrointestinal problems, rash, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and eye inflammation. If left unchecked, it leads to inflammation of the heart. Around 45% of youths require intensive care. About 1 in 100 youths who develop MIS-C die.

Approximately 71% of patients with MIS-C are Black and Hispanic children. Boys have a slightly higher risk of developing the syndrome, accounting for 58% of cases. The median age for MIS-C is 9 years old but there have been cases in infants, as well as in youths up to 21.

According to the Pew Research Center, “Black Americans appear to account for a larger share of COVID-19 hospitalizations nationally than their share of the population”. According to the CDC, the COVID-19 and MIS-C rates are attributable to healthcare equity issues. These are primarily centered around social issues, including the ability to take time off of work, employment in essential services, childcare, and lack of insurance. The Mayo Clinic notes that, “Black or African Americans … account for 30% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses,” a major source of exposure for the Black community.

If you live with a minor aged 12 years or older, vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 and MIS-C. Dr. Thihalolipavan recommends that families minimize exposure by checking that friends and family are vaccinated before visits or play dates and ensuring youths and their families wear masks in public when indoors. Regular testing every 7 to 14 days can help detect the virus early, making it easier to track any symptoms that occur. Even if your child has not shown any signs of COVID-19, if they have been exposed to the virus, they may be at risk. It is imperative to take your child to a doctor if they have a fever over 101°F for more than 24 hours, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or rash. For more information, see the CDC’s page on MIS-C at

The SDV&V’s coverage of local news in San Diego County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Enthnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.