A higher Covid-19 death rate among people with autism, Down syndrome and other intellectual development disorders has sparked a lobbying effort by family members and caregivers to persuade states to give priority to the group in vaccine rollouts.
People with such disorders, who account for one in 50 Americans, are on average more than twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as the wider U.S. population, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from 12 states. The analysis mirrors similar, recent studies. One study, conducted by nonprofit organization FAIR Health, found the group’s death rate is higher than many others already widely recognized as particularly vulnerable to the disease.
The higher rate is because many people with these disorders suffer from conditions such as respiratory and heart disease, which are known to contribute to lower rates of survival from Covid-19, medical experts say.
Family members and caregivers are concerned that the vulnerable won’t be prioritized for vaccines despite the high death rates. They say people with these conditions have been consistently ignored by officials throughout the pandemic and the disorders are little understood even by medical professionals, making diagnoses and treatments more difficult.