What is known?
People who are of older age, male sex, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) are at the grater risk for poor COVID-19 outcome and more often end up in the hospital, ICU, needing a respirator and/or die. Whereas it has not been shown that patients with liver or kidney disease and cancers have such greater risk.
What is unknown?
It is not known why and how these illnesses would cause the poor outcomes. Other factors related to chronic diseases (e.g. high blood pressure) could also increase the chance of contracting COVID-19 and/or cause other complications that lead to poor outcomes, rather than directly resulting in poor prognosis. In addition, genes regulating the immune response may directly influence these negative outcomes.
Take home message
Identifying risk groups is important for providing care. Understanding the virus and its effects, however, means that we try to understand why some people with many chronic illnesses get mild symptoms, and some people that are healthy die from it.
Written by: Desi Kocevska, MD, PhD, epidemiologist
Date: 14th Apr 2020