SERIES of factors that the majority of COVID-19 patients share have been identified by researchers from eight institutions in China and the United States – including the Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing and the University of California.
Their study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, throws light on some key factors that people who die from the disease have in common. The study is based on the data of 85 patients who died of multiple organ failure after having received care for severe Covid-19.
The novel coronavirus appears to be posing a particular threat to men.
The researchers found that 72.9 percent of people who died from the new coronavirus –were male. More men are dying than women as a result of some biological and other lifestyle choices. Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent infection – but multiple studies show that women are much more likely to wash their hands and use soap than men. Men may have a “false sense of security” about coronavirus. Also, Chinese men are much more likely to smoke than women, which can lead to a weaker immune system.
China has the largest population of smokers in the world, accounting for nearly a third of the world’s smokers, but just 2 percent of them are women. Smokers are more likely to be killed by the coronavirus. Chinese men also have higher rates of high blood pressure , type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than women.
All of these conditions can increase the risk of complications following infection of coronavirus.
Coronavirus can infect anyone of any age, but adults aged 60 and upwards are more likely to get seriously ill from it, with scientists discovering that those who died from Covid-19 had a median age of 65.8 years old.
Medics say it’s because our immune systems weaken with age, meaning an older person’s body is less able to fight Covid-19. As you get older, your immune system becomes less efficient – that’s why older people are at higher risk of serious complications of coronavirus infection. If your immune system isn’t strong, it’s more likely that the virus can multiply deep inside your lung, causing inflammation and scarring. Your immune system will try and fight it off, and will often destroy healthy lung tissue in the process.
This makes you more prone to get ‘secondary’ infections like pneumococcal pneumonia. In fact, evidence from China, where the deadly virus originated, shows one in seven of those over 80 known to have contracted coronavirus have died.
Those who died from Covid-19 in the study mostly had underlying chronic conditions, such as heart problems or diabetes.
The greatest number of deaths in our cohort were in males over 50 with non-communicable chronic diseases.. The study conveys the seriousness of Covid-19 and emphasises the risk groups of males over 50 with chronic comorbid conditions, including hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary heart disease, and diabetes.
People who are obese or seriously overweight fall into the highrisk category for coronavirus. This is because being overweight or obese can weaken the body’s immune system which could make people more likely to catch coronavirus and makes it harder for the body to fight the bug. People with a BMI of 40 or above have a greater risk of developing complications if they catch the virus. More than 60 percent of patients in intensive care with the virus were overweight or classed as morbidly obese.
Those who were overweight, with a BMI of 25 to 40, made up 64 percent of the 194 coronavirus patients who were in ICU at the time, while 7 percent were classed as obese with a BMI over 40.
5.Low white blood cells
The research team found that 81.2 percent of those who died from Covid-19 in the study “had very low eosinophil counts on admission to the hospital.
This is a type of white blood cells, which are specialised immune cells that help fight infection. The medics suggested that having abnormally low levels of eosinophils may correlate with a greater risk of severe outcomes in people who have contracted Covid-19.
The study, which investigated patients from Wuhan, China who died in the early phases of this pandemic, identified certain characteristics. Yet as the disease has spread to other regions, the observations from these areas may be the same, or different. Genetics may play a role in the response to the infection, and the course of the pandemic may change as the virus mutates, as well. Since this is a new pandemic that is constantly shifting, we think the medical community needs to keep an open mind as more and more studies are conducted.