1 In 5 People Worldwide At Risk Of Severe COVID-19, Says New Study

According To researchers, an estimated 1.7 billion people have at least one of the underlying health conditions that could increase their risk of severe COVID-19 if infected.

We are currently living through one of the worst pandemics in modern history. The COVID-19 contagion has disrupted lives and put a stop to all things that most people took for granted till a few months ago. When the virus first emerged in Wuhan, China, little did anyone suspect that within a very short span of time, it would hold the entire world hostage.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, scientists have worked tirelessly to find a cure and vaccine for this highly infectious disease. But almost everyone agrees that it may be a while before we see one. But on a brighter note, trials are going on in many parts of the world and some of these have also progressed to the stage of human trials.

But one peculiarity of this disease is that it spreads very rapidly. Moreover, scientists also believe that this virus may have mutated and taken on a more virulent form in some places across the world. The COVID-19 virus is also dangerous for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Now according to a new study at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in the UK, 1 in 5 people worldwide at risk of severe COVID-19. The Lancet Global Health journal published this study.

1.7 Billion People With Chronic Conditions At Risk

According to researchers, an estimated 1.7 billion people have at least one of the underlying health conditions that could increase their risk of severe COVID-19 if infected.

Researchers of this study are hopeful that their estimates will provide useful starting points for designing measures to protect those at increased risk of severe disease. They say that this may involve advising people with underlying conditions to adopt social distancing measures appropriate to their level of risk, or prioritising them for vaccination in the future.

4 Per Cent Of World Population May Need Hospitallisation

The researchers estimated that four per cent of the world’s population (349 million of 7.8 billion people) will require hospitalisation if infected. This suggests that the increased risk of severe COVID-19 could be quite modest for many with underlying conditions.

The new study provides global, regional and national estimates for the number of people with underlying health conditions.

The High Risk Groups

We all know by now that this disease is especially dangerous for people with underlying conditions and the elderly. You need to be more careful if you have diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Let us see what the above-mentioned study says.

  • According to the study, globally, less than five per cent of people aged under 20 years, but more than 66 per cent of those aged 70 and above, have at least one underlying condition that could increase their risk of severe Covid-19.
  • Among the working-age population (15 to 64 years), 23 per cent are estimated to have at least one underlying condition.
  • Researchers estimated that 349 million people worldwide are at high risk of severe Covid-19, meaning they would require hospital treatment if infected.
  • This risk varies from less than one per cent of people under 20 to nearly 20 per cent of those aged 70 or older, rising to more than 25 per cent in males over 70.
  • The findings showed that in all age groups under 65, around twice the number of men as women would require hospitalisation.
  • Above 65 years, the ratio becomes less marked because women are over-represented in older age groups due to longer life expectancy.

A Word Of Caution

The research team cautions that they focused on underlying chronic conditions and didn’t include other possible risk factors for COVID-19 that are not yet included in all guidelines, such as ethnicity and socioeconomic deprivation.

Their estimates are therefore unlikely to be exhaustive but serve as a starting point for policymakers. They based their estimates on disease prevalence data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2017, UN population estimates for 2020 and the list of underlying health conditions relevant to COVID-19, as defined by current guidelines.

They analysed the number of people with an underlying condition by age group, sex and country for 188 countries.

To help determine the degree of increased risk, the researchers also provided separate estimates of the proportion of all people (with and without underlying conditions) who would require hospitalisation if infected.

The authors calculated those at high risk using infection hospitalisation ratios for COVID-19 and made adjustments for differences between countries.


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