The COVID-19 coronavirus has spread quickly around the world, but it doesn’t affect everyone the same way.
Some groups are more at risk of infection, medical complications and death from the virus.
Healthy Young Adults
Everyone is susceptible to COVID-19, but healthy young adults are relatively well-equipped to battle infection. But they should be just as careful to avoid infection in order to contain the spread of the virus to at-risk groups.
Nancy Messonnier, M.D., an internist and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases told AARP that older adults are “twice as likely to develop serious outcomes versus otherwise younger, healthier people.” As adults age, their immune systems naturally weaken, leaving them vulnerable to viruses, which tend to do more damage when infection does happen since older adults often have underlying conditions. The death rates among older people are also much higher than younger people, likely because of weakness in the respiratory system, which the virus effects.
Adults With Medical Conditions
The CDC warns that people with underlying medical conditions should take extra precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19, calling attention particularly to those with heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. According to a Chinese study (not yet peer-reviewed), underlying conditions (“co-morbidities”) like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hepatitis B, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney diseases, and cancer all caused increased chances patients would require intensive care or die.
Luckily children don’t seem particularly affected by COVID-19. The CDC notes that, while cases have been recorded in kids and very young children, young ones don’t seem to feel the effects as much as older adults and experience fewer medical complications. One report suggests children may show resilience because they are often exposed to other coronaviruses, giving them partial immunity.
While there isn’t much clear data about the coronavirus’s effects on pregnant women yet, the CDC does warn that they “experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections.” In previous coronavirus outbreaks like SARS and MERS, pregnant women were at higher risk of severe illness and deadly complications from infection. Incidents of miscarriage and stillbirth caused by infection were also documented during the SARS and MERS outbreaks.