With the US president, Donald Trump, testing constructive for coronavirus, hypothesis has begun concerning attainable outcomes. The truth is, it’s unimaginable to say for sure what’s going to occur to a person as soon as they’ve contracted COVID. Some individuals could don’t have any signs in any respect, whereas others could have far worse outcomes. It’s one of many many mysteries of the virus that scientists worldwide are working across the clock to untangle.
With regards to threat, there are some issues we do know, however many who stay unsure. There are additionally some issues we are able to change and a few that we’re caught with. It’s now frequent information that age is crucial issue driving the danger of worse outcomes from COVID. Being male, dwelling with weight problems, being from a non-white ethnic group and having long-term situations – equivalent to diabetes and coronary heart illness – additionally improve threat.
The elevated threat with age is placing – individuals 80 and older are estimated to be 70 instances extra prone to die than these below 40. Within the UK, being aged 70 or older courses individuals as clinically weak, or reasonably in danger. Within the USA, eight out of each ten deaths attributed to COVID have been of individuals 65 and older.
Against this, weight problems is estimated to extend threat of dying from COVID by virtually 50%, and kind 2 diabetes is estimated to double the danger.
These are solely the headline components – totally different medicines could have an effect on threat, as could a bunch of different components which can range from individual to individual and embrace issues equivalent to viral load, which means how a lot of the virus an individual is uncovered to within the first place.
Linked to many of those threat components can also be the important thing, however advanced, problem of socioeconomic standing – with individuals from much less advantaged teams struggling a disproportionate burden of COVID illness and dying.
A few of the above threat components are non-modifiable, which implies, primarily, we’re caught with them. You possibly can’t change how previous you’re. The excellent news, nevertheless, is that motion could be taken to handle a few of the others. Raised physique weight, for instance, is pushed by a posh system of socioeconomic, industrial, environmental and genetic components, however governments can roll out insurance policies to assist tackle a few of these. There are additionally evidence-based strategies out there to help wholesome weight reduction.
Being rich is wholesome
When protecting Trump’s threat components, one is much less spoken of however weighs closely in his favour – his socioeconomic standing. Folks from less-advantaged teams are at larger threat from COVID.
If one teases this out, the well being advantages of upper socioeconomic standing become right down to numerous components, together with a decrease threat of contracting the illness within the first place (usually linked to socioeconomic components equivalent to occupation or the place you reside). Different components at play embrace the presence and remedy of underlying well being situations, the relative threat of publicity to air air pollution and different environmental threats to well being – and, crucially, entry to healthcare.
For individuals with essentially the most extreme types of COVID, remedy with the drug dexamethasone can scale back threat of dying by as much as one-third. Socioeconomic standing is among the components figuring out who will get the very best remedy for COVID, notably in nations the place there isn’t any common healthcare – together with the US.
When the UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, contracted COVID this yr, it was described as a wake-up name, notably with regard to weight problems. The prime minister himself has raised physique weight as a problem, and attributes his extreme an infection to that threat issue.
It stays to be seen how Trump reacts, each bodily and politically, to his personal an infection. There isn’t a doubt that, as a consequence of his place, he can be receiving each facet of healthcare he may want for. Against this, tens of millions of Individuals can’t entry fundamental care, together with entry to important medicines equivalent to insulin for sort 1 diabetes (Trump lately asserted insulin is priced as cheaply as water, which sadly is much from true), not to mention intensive care through the acute section of a pandemic.
Whereas the press focuses on the danger components that will put Trump at larger threat of extreme an infection, we should always not overlook these modifiable and strikingly inequitably distributed components which work in his favour. Focus ought to be not solely on treating the virus, however on mending the damaged system that has allowed it to assert the lives of 207,000 Individuals and counting.