At this point, it seems people of all ages are susceptible to infection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, those most at risk of severe cases of the illness are the elderly and people with underlying health conditions (like high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer and diabetes) according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clarifies further, stating that those most at risk for severe illness are:
- adults 65 and older and people with chronic lung or heart disease
- people who are immunocompromised (such as those with HIV)
- the severely obese
- people with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- people with liver disease
A study published in JAMA Network on April 22 looked at 5,700 patients in the New York City area who had been hospitalized for COVID-19, and found that over 94% had at least one underlying health problem. The most common were hypertension, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.
In the U.S., 80% of COVID-19 related deaths have been adults 65 years and older, according to the CDC.
It is too early to tell if pregnant women are also at risk of severe illness caused by the coronavirus, according to the WHO. Some newborn babies have reportedly tested positive for the virus, but it is unclear how the transmission occurred.