On March 29thmedia reported that older people still face the greatest risk of death as the global pandemic continues, but they are far from the only ones vulnerable to infection. In the face of this new virus, there are still many mysteries that remain unsolved. As cases in the U.S. and Europe surge, experts have found that your health plays a key role in the symptoms of new coronary pneumonia, regardless of your age, before a pandemic begins.
Although it will be months before scientists have enough data to determine who is most at risk and why, preliminary data from early cases around the world are beginning to provide clues.
It’s not just sick old people.
The elderly are undoubtedly the hardest hit by the new coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19). In China, 80 per cent of deaths are 60 years of age or older, a general trend that is taking place elsewhere.
The ageing of the population means that some countries face particular risks, and Italy is the world’s second-longest-lived country after Japan. Although the death rate fluctuated considerably at the beginning of the outbreak, Italy reported that more than 80 per cent of the deaths so far were over 70 years of age.
In addition, Italy reported that one quarter of the cases so far occurred in people between the ages of 19 and 50, in Spain, a third were under the age of 44, and in the United States, the first case snapshot from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 29 per cent of patients were between the ages of 20 and 44.
Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s emergency chief, says 10 to 15 percent of people under the age of 50 have a moderate to severe infection. Even if they survive, they will need to be treated in hospital for several weeks. In France, more than half of the 300 people initially admitted to the intensive care unit were under 60.
Another mystery is that children, so far, account for only a fraction of the total number of cases in the world. Another question is what role children play in spreading the virus.
The most dangerous health conditions
Age aside: basic health plays a big role. Of COVID-19 patients in China, 40% have other chronic health problems. Before receiving COVID-19, heart disease, diabetes or chronic lung disease had the highest mortality rates.
Pre-existing health problems can also increase the risk of infection, such as those with weakened immune systems, including cancer treatment. Italy reported that seven of the first nine patients under the age of 40 who died of COVID-19 had been confirmed to have “serious illnesses” such as heart disease.
The more health problems there are, the worse it gets. Italy also reported that about half of those who died of COVID-19 had three or more potential diseases, while only 2 per cent of those who died were previously healthy.
Dr. Trish Perl, director of the Infectious Diseases Department at the University of Texas at Austin’s Southwestern Medical Center, says heart disease is a very broad term, but so far the most dangerous people appear to have serious cardiovascular diseases, such as congestive heart failure or atherosclerosis.
In addition, any type of infection may make diabetes more difficult to control, but it is unclear why people with diabetes are more susceptible to the new coronavirus. Asthma is also a concern, and while regular respiratory infections can also cause PATIENTs with COVID-19 to use ventilators, it is not clear what effect mild asthma will have on patients and further monitoring is needed.
Perhaps the gender imbalance is more than just an accident, because during previous SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreaks, COVID-19 scientists have found that men seem to be more susceptible to infection than women.
In this outbreak, almost half more men than women are among the 19 deaths in China. A similar situation has occurred in other parts of Asia and Europe.
In Italy, the rate of infection is currently 58 per cent for men, with men dying more than women, and the risk of increased risk begins at age 50, according to a report by the Italian COVID-19 monitoring group.
Although the CDC has not released details, a report on the first batch of nearly 200 UK intensive care patients found that about two-thirds of them were male.
One doubt is that, globally, men smoke more frequently and longer than women. The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is urging a study of the relationship between smoking and COVID-19.
Hormones can also work. In 2017, researchers at Iowa State University found in animal models that male mice infected with SARS were more likely to die. Female mice had a sharp increase in mortality after the ovaries of sex mice were removed. So the scientists concluded that estrogen seemed to act as a protective force.