Knowledge for Public

Recent Progress on Population Susceptibility to COVID-19

Ph.D. Lili Hao, Beijing Institute of Genomics (BIG),CAS
Recent analysis on multiple sets of clinical data provide evidences for discrepant susceptibility to COVID-19 among different cohorts or populations. A number of studies have reached consensus that people with aging, diabetes, physical weakness, multiple system disorders, and low immune system are more likely to become infected with COVID-19 and show severe illness. The incidence, severity, and mortality of COVID-19 were significantly higher in older adults, especially those with complications such as diabetes. Some retrospective analyses show that children have lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection than adults, symptoms of children with COVID-19 are less severe. However, it’s worth noting that severe cases in children are also reported occasionally, and infant infected with SARS-CoV-2 may have rare but important neurologic manifestations. 
A multi-center study during the COVID-19 outbreak indicates patients with cancer appear more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 and are at higher risk for all severe outcomes. Patients with blood diseases, lung cancer or metastatic cancer, undergoing surgery had a higher frequency of severe prognosis. In addition, an independent research indicates that obesity is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 infection, possibly because obese patients have less protective cardiopulmonary reserve and are more prone to immune disorders, thus exacerbating COVID-19 infection and organ failure to some extent. Also, patients with lymphocytopenia symptoms and the higher Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score were more likely to become severely ill with COVID-19.
It is important to pay more attention to the high-risk population, however, exclusive emphasis on high-risk populations could obscure the specific risks and needs of other susceptible populations. Researchers from the United States, Honduras, France, Argentina and Uruguay issued a joint statement calling for COVID-19 surveillance and research during pregnancy and a variety of strategies to address the issues surrounding pregnant women and their newborns. Under the circumstances of the current pandemic, pregnant women should try to avoid physical contact with COVID-19 patients and reduce (or postpone) some prenatal examinations.
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