People younger than 65 years are less likely to die from COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus. They may fall sick and may even be hospitalized but chances of dying are less. Your body’s response to the coronavirus attack depends on the strength of your immune system.

There are certain risk factors that increase your likely hood of catching the COVID-19 disease. They also increase the chances of mortality in people who have caught the coronavirus now called SARS-COV-2.

Your immunity does weaken with age and it is after the age of 65 years that this change starts to take effect.

There is a clear link between age and the chances of being hospitalized and even dying from COVID-19 sickness.

Let’s compare the data from the Imperial College of London and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Imperial College, London

  • Less than 5% below 50 years and 24% of people between 70 to 79 years needed to be hospitalized because of their condition

Critical care was required for

  • 5% of people under 40 yrs
  • 27% of people in their 60s
  • 43% of people in their 70s and lastly
  • 71% for people over the age of 80

According to an audit by a research charity, the average age of people who required critical care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was 63 years.

CDC (USA)

According to the US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) early data suggested 53% of those people hospitalized were over 55 years of age.

When you look at admissions to ICU and deaths, a much higher proportion were in the oldest age categories. About 80% of deaths were among those more than 65 years old.

In Italy, 0.4% of cases in their 40s succumbed in comparison with 19.7% of infected people in their 80s.

Factors that increase your risk

Based on what little is known, following are the conditions that increase your risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Age over 70 years of age
  • Pregnancy
  • People staying in residential care home for long periods
  • People with chronic lung disease such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and COPD and moderate to severe bronchial asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions such as coronary heart disease and heart failure
  • People whose immunity is compromised
    • Many conditions can cause a person’s immunity to weaken. Such conditions include cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
    • People with severe obesity (BMI of 40 or higher): Obesity is considered a low-grade inflammatory disease. It increases your risk to various diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, and sleep apnea. Studies have shown an impaired immune response or immune function leading to increased chances for various infections.
  • In people with diabetes, mortality is about threefold higher than non-diabetic persons are. Diabetes patients have a weakened immune-response to infection. Diabetes was also a high-risk factor for the increase in severity and mortality in the previous SARS, MERS corona virus infections and the severe flu pandemic in 2009.
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease
  • Stroke survivors
  • Hypertension: Early research shows that people with hypertension are more likely to catch the COVID-19 infection, have more severe symptoms and also more likely to die from this disease.

Hypertension and diabetes are the two most common underlying conditions found in patients who caught the COVID-19 disease.

Considering the very contagious nature of the coronavirus infection, people who are at a higher risk should be cautious and strictly observe social distancing, wearing of the mask and staying home at all times.

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