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If You Answer "Yes" To This, You're At Risk for Coronavirus Death

The largest study to date has identified four key risk factors for COVID-19 death.
Female doctor with a patient who is complaining of chest pain during coronavirus epidemic.

Early in the pandemic, it became clear that when it comes to the virus that causes the ravaging disease COVID-19, it does in fact discriminate. Since the first cases were identified in December 2019, researchers have been scrambling to identify exactly what makes one person more at risk to not only get the virus, but also die from it. This week, the largest study of its kind has pinpointed the four key risk factors that heavily influence whether an individual will lose their life due to coronavirus.

They Wanted to Get a "Clear Sense of the Risks"

The study, published Wednesday in Nature, analyzed data of more than 17 million people in England—about 40 percent of their population—finding that the people most vulnerable are older people, men, racial and ethnic minorities, and those with underlying health conditions.

In total 17,278,392 adults were tracked over a three month period, 10,926 of them dying of COVID-19 related complications. Researchers used their OpenSAFELY platform to effectively utilize NHS data, which was why they were able to access such a large sample size. 

Dr. Ben Goldacre of the University of Oxford, one of the authors on the study, explained to the New York Times that most previous work focused on patients that had checked into a hospital, signaling severe coronavirus infection—failing to take into consideration all of those who battled the virus at home. "That's useful and important, but we wanted to get a clear sense of the risks as an everyday person. Our starting pool is literally everybody," he explained. 

The Four Key Risk Factors

Are you over 80?

Overall they identified that patients over the age of 80 were at least 20 times more likely to die as a result of the virus than those in their 50s—and hundreds of times more likely to die than those below the age of 40. Dr. Goldacre described the relationship as "jaw-dropping." 

Are you a man?

They also confirmed previous findings that men were more likely to die of the virus than women.

Do you have these risk factors?

They identified obesity, diabetes, severe asthma, compromised immunity, and socioeconomic factors as other increased risk factors. 

Are you nonwhite?

They also found that the 11 percent of those involved in the study who identified as nonwhite, particularly Black and South Asian, were at a higher risk of death from coronavirus than white people—even after researchers adjusted for age, sex, and medical conditions. As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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