With the US president, Donald Trump, testing constructive for coronavirus, hypothesis has begun relating to potential outcomes. The truth is, it’s not possible to say for sure what is going to occur to a person as soon as they’ve contracted COVID. Some folks 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.
On the subject of 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 widespread data that age is an important issue driving the danger of worse outcomes from COVID. Being male, residing with weight problems, being from a non-white ethnic group and having long-term situations – akin to diabetes and coronary heart illness – additionally enhance threat.
The elevated threat with age is hanging – folks 80 and older are estimated to be 70 instances extra more likely to die than these underneath 40. Within the UK, being aged 70 or older lessons folks as clinically susceptible, or reasonably in danger. Within the USA, eight out of each ten deaths attributed to COVID have been of individuals 65 and older.
In contrast, weight problems is estimated to extend threat of demise from COVID by nearly 50%, and sort 2 diabetes is estimated to double the danger.
These are solely the headline elements – completely different drugs could have an effect on threat, as could a bunch of different elements which is able to fluctuate from individual to individual and embody issues akin 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 elements can also be the important thing, however complicated, situation of socioeconomic standing – with folks from much less advantaged teams struggling a disproportionate burden of COVID illness and demise.
A few of the above threat elements are non-modifiable, which suggests, primarily, we’re caught with them. You may’t change how previous you’re. The excellent news, nevertheless, is that motion may be taken to deal with a few of the others. Raised physique weight, for instance, is pushed by a posh system of socioeconomic, business, environmental and genetic elements, however governments can roll out insurance policies to assist tackle a few of these. There are additionally evidence-based strategies obtainable to assist wholesome weight reduction.
Being rich is wholesome
When overlaying Trump’s threat elements, one is much less spoken of however weighs closely in his favour – his socioeconomic standing. Individuals from less-advantaged teams are at better threat from COVID.
If one teases this out, the well being advantages of upper socioeconomic standing grow to be right down to plenty of elements, together with a decrease threat of contracting the illness within the first place (typically linked to socioeconomic elements akin to occupation or the place you reside). Different elements at play embody the presence and therapy 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 folks with probably the most extreme types of COVID, therapy with the drug dexamethasone can cut back threat of demise by as much as one-third. Socioeconomic standing is likely one of the elements figuring out who will get the perfect therapy for COVID, notably in international locations 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 reference 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 any doubt that, as a consequence of his place, he can be receiving each side of healthcare he may want for. In contrast, tens of millions of People can not entry primary care, together with entry to important drugs akin to insulin for sort 1 diabetes (Trump lately asserted insulin is priced as cheaply as water, which sadly is way from true), not to mention intensive care in the course of the acute part of a pandemic.
Whereas the press focuses on the danger elements that will put Trump at better threat of extreme an infection, we should always not overlook these modifiable and strikingly inequitably distributed elements which work in his favour. Focus must be not solely on treating the virus, however on mending the damaged system that has allowed it to say the lives of 207,000 People and counting.