COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly in our country with the Centers for Disease Control reporting over 3 million total cases and 100,000 deaths in our country alone. Research on the disease is limited due its’ relatively recent arrival but we are gaining a better understanding of the disease, its’ transmission, and impact on infected individuals. The severity of symptoms in those affected by COVID 19 has varied based on the individual affected, time to diagnosis, and the care they received. A large retrospective study published recently sheds additional light on the patient populations most at risk for severe symptoms and death from the virus.
Williamson and colleagues published a large study in the journal Nature to determine which risk factors are associated with the most severe presentations of COVID-19 (2020). Authors published data from England’s National Health System database on patients diagnosed with COVID 19. They reviewed the charts of over 17 million English patients in the database and reported on the close to 11,000 deaths associated with this disease. Consistent with prior information, age remained a significant risk factor with those in their 9th decade were almost 20 times as likely to pass away from the disease compared to those in their 6th decade. Researchers reported this risk was even higher when compared these older adults were compared to infected patients in their 5th decade.
As expected, those individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, compromised immune systems, and asthma also were found to have a higher risk of death from the virus. Authors also reported significant differences in death rates by sex, race, and socioeconomic status. These differences have also been reported in the infection and death rates found in our country.