Coronavirus’ Primary Targets: Seniors, Men, Cigarette Smokers

Viruses can attack one segment of the population more severely than another. The 1918 flu, which claimed 50 million lives globally, particularly affected young adults. The Zika outbreak that ravaged through Brazil in 2015-2016 had an impact that was especially devastating pregnant females, attacking the brains of the foetuses they carried.

COVID-19, the illness triggered by the coronavirus which originated in Asia, appears to reach more severe levels with with age, according to Michael Mina, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“There is apparently this threshold — below [age] 35 we’re seeing practically zero [cases],” he says. “As individuals upsurge in age from their 40s to 80s, we’re seeing mortality enhance.”

Coronavirus, which erupted late last year, has now infected more than 80,000 people and 2,700 deaths, nearly all them in China, at the time of writing.

Research published Monday within a Journal regarding the American Medical Association that examined the first 45,000 instances in China, found 80% of the cases being reported to be moderate. The other 20% of those diagnosed had mild, severe, or critical signs, including, pneumonia, and organ failure. About 2.3% of overall infections have now been lethal at the time of writing. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a similar virus that spread throughout in Asia in 2002, also hit people over 60 the hardest. More than 8,000 individuals contracted the virus over 8 months, almost 10% of whom died.

With COVID-19, children that are aged 1-9 account just for 1% of all of the Chinese infections, and none of the deaths, based on the JAMA study. Another 1% were aged 10-19.

Of people in their 70s who got the virus, 8% passed away, the study found, along with nearly 15% of these 80 and older. “Someone in their 80s has a pretty risk that is most of leaving the medical center,” if treated for COVID-19, Mina says.

Early data indicates that men were more vulnerable, while they accounted just for over fifty percent the cases, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Infected males died twice as frequently as infected women. Mina says males might account for more cases because they had been tested more regularly, but evidence is not strong to create worthwhile conclusions.”

It’s possible, several professionals told The New York Times, that because Chinese men are more most likely than women to be cigarette smokers, they are able to be struck harder than women. A global wellness Organization study from 2019 found that 47.6% of Chinese men smoke, compared to just 1.8% of Chinese women. Women also generally mount more powerful immune responses than men.

People who have heart conditions, diabetes, or lung issues like COPD are also at a greater risk for severe disease and death, says Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, director associated with the Division of Infectious conditions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. She compared COVID-19 to viral pneumonias, which have a tendency to have a worse effect on people whom currently have a weakened system that is less resistant.

Protection for Infants
Expecting women do not seem to be impacted by this illness, though only a few have been carefully tracked thus far. One piece of research published recently in The Lancet discovered that nine women whom became infected with COVID-19 did not pass it onto their babies, and Mina says that newborns seem to be spared the worst associated with the illness. “I think the numbers of young babies who possess died have actually been extraordinarily small, compared to the quantity which have probably been exposed,” he claims. “We’re just not seeing medical illness.”

Researchers do not know why children appear to be protected though as any moms and dads know, they are generally a carrier for disease. It could be that children’s immune systems are better able to undertake the effects of the virus, Mina says, or perhaps they have immunity from a previous, related viral infection, or the coronavirus doesn’t replicate since well inside them for an unknown reason.

Healthcare workers additionally are at increased risk of contracting the disease. At minimum 1,700 have actually become infected while treating clients in Asia, mostly in Hubei Province where the outbreak is said to have originated. Overall, nearly 15% of conditions among health workers were classified as severe or critical, and five have died, including Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old Ophthalmologist, who attempted to raise an early warning in regards to the disease.

Attempting to Assist and Getting Sick
Health care employees are likely to be particularly susceptible, according to Mina, either because they were infected when they thought they were safe, such like in dormitories where they slept since they did not realize anyone they managed had been infectious, did not wear protective gear properly with every one of the dozens of clients they addressed, or being run-down, he says.

Marrazzo says she’s particularly concerned about the health of previously healthy employees who are dropping sick and dying. It’s feasible they are sicker than typical people and she is worried that the data from China might not be telling the full story about these workers, because they were exposed to patients with extremely high viral loads, she says.

To be prepared, Marrazzo says, people should stay up to date with news about how the virus is spreading and take the precautions to keep themselves as healthy as possible: getting enough rest, exercising, eating well, and having the flu vaccine.

“Also, to be you’re that’s certain sound condition to withstand disease is even more important now,” she says. “We know that those who are generally healthiest — not cigarette smoking, getting their vaccines, etc. — the boring health that is preventive — those are the people who do best when they go right to the hospital for surgery; they retrieve the quickest from surgery.”

Instead of focusing so much on trying to quarantine preventing this from spreading — it is going to spread — all work needs become on what can we do to best care.

Michael Mina, MD, assistant teacher of epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public wellness, says that if he were 65 or older, he wouldn’t do any international travel that wasn’t absolutely required, “out of a pure abundance of caution,” saying that “if it’s completely only for fun, it’s not a horrible idea” to cancel or postpone a foreign trip.

He states it’s also better for people who aren’t feeling well to remain home from work and self-quarantine on their own, to prevent the illness from spreading.

Mina says he agrees with the U.S. CDC that the virus is likely to strike this nation more heavily than it offers, and spread through the community.

It may, in fact, already be right here, he claims. The CDC is relying on its flu detection system to detect any instances of COVID-19, but he’s not convinced that system is sufficient.

Knowing the most vulnerable people can better help communities respond if and when the virus comes, Mina says. For example, an 80-year-old having a lung condition should aggressively be addressed from the beginning if they fall ill with the virus, rather than waiting until their condition worsens.

Mina states he would like to see a test that is home-based like a pregnancy test, where people can be informed if they’re infected without going to a hospital or clinic and risk spreading COVID-19 further.

He claims he’s also concerned that the U.S. has not prepared enough for the virus to spread across the country, it doing at some point as he expects. Rather than focusing so much on trying to quarantine and give a wide berth to this from distributing — it’s going to spread.