Covid-19 is no random killer, study finds

Covid-19 isn’t a random killer. Only people who have one of four chronic health problems is likely to die from the virus, a major new study has confirmed.

The ‘big four’ are heart disease, breathing or kidney (renal) problems, or cancer—and these risks are magnified if the person is also obese, or is suffering from several of the diseases at the same time. Age also plays a part, but again only if the patient has one of the four health problems.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia reviewed 52 studies—involving more than 100,000 Covid patients—to discover that the four diseases were common in the most serious Covid cases, either needing intensive care, ventilator support or went on to die.

People with more than one of the chronic problems were the most likely to need emergency care. Obesity acted like a magnifier, and further increased the risk of death in those with one of the four diseases.

Lead researcher Dr Vassilios Vassiliou says the study is the largest that has so far been carried out on severe Covid cases. The research “gives us the really big picture. . .it is the most comprehensive study of its kind to date,” he said.

(Source: JAMA Network Open, 2021; 4: e213594)