It is vital that we all know which groups of people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. Not only is this knowledge useful to individuals, but it will benefit nations and bring us one step closer to finding a way to minimize casualty. Armed with this data, governments can implement measures that will safeguard the wellbeing of everyone and eliminate COVID-19 deaths altogether. As individuals too, we can be extra wary if we are categorized within the danger groups.
It has been observed that in certain people, coronavirus is more damaging than others. They tend to develop an infection that becomes dangerous and lethal. If doctors and healthcare professionals have an insight into who is at greater risk, then they will deploy all steps to provide robust care to these people. Governments can make special provisions for them.
So here is what researchers and doctors have realized from experience over the past 3 months during which COVID-19 became a pandemic-
- The elderly: In China, more than 80% of the people who came down with COVID-19 are 30 years or older (30-79 years). Teenagers and people in their 20s, even though they socialize and travel as much as their older peers do not seem to be as vulnerable. The fatality rate is the highest among people in their 80s. This trend could indicate that other illnesses and weakened immunity could compound the infection caused by COVID-19.
- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Another stark trait noticed was that half the people (age 22-94) who tested positive for COVID-19 in Wuhan developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome or ARDS. Half of the people who had contracted ARDS passed away. ARDS triggers fluid accumulation in the alveoli (air sacs) of the lungs. This curtails the amount of oxygen that the lungs can breathe in and in turn causes an acute oxygen shortage all over the body. 9% of the patients who did not acquire ARDS died. That means when ARDS sets in, a person is at a greater risk of dying. Moreover, ARDS is more likely to afflict senior citizens than the younger populace. The average age of the people who came down with ARDS was 61.
- Youngsters are safe: People under the age of 18 are the safest with only 2.4% of the reported cases being youngsters of this age group.
- Male vs. Female: Gender too may make a person more vulnerable. Interestingly, statistics found that for every 100 women affected by COVID-19, there were 106 men who had contracted the same disease. WHO also made the same discovery- 51% of the COVID-19 patients were men.
- Concomitant illnesses: Comorbidities too have a say in the lethality of COVID-19. A person with any one of the following illnesses is 79% more likely to require intensive care treatment-
- Cardiovascular disease
- Hepatitis B
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Pregnancy: Surprisingly pregnancy does not tend to give a severe turn to COVID-19 (pregnancy weakens the immunity). Only one COVID-19 patient gave birth to a baby who tested positive for the virus and it raised the pertinent question on whether vertical transmission (mother to child) of coronavirus is possible. But no other baby born of a mom with COVID-19 contracted the infection. But still, the possibility of vertical transmission cannot be overlooked.
So what it boils down to is this- if you are an elderly person, a man or have a medical history of certain illnesses, you need to be extra careful since COVID-19 is more dangerous for you.