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Who is Most at Risk for COVID-19?

Who is Most at Risk for COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus, and scientists are still learning as much as they can about this disease. We don’t have a cure or an effective means of stopping the virus from spreading. However, we do have some idea of who is at risk for COVID-19.

Knowing who is at risk from COVID-19 can help keep those people safe from severe illness, or worse. Here’s what you need to know.

Who is at risk for COVID-19?

Based on the information that we have now, those who are most at risk are the following:

  • People who have chronic lung problems, such as asthma and COPD.
  • People with cardiovascular diseases.
  • Persons suffering from severe obesity
  • People with chronic chronic kidney diseases (usually from hypertension & diabetes mellitus)
  • The immunocompromised (HIV, cancer, etc.)
  • Those who are 65 and above

The virus can attack the body of those at risk more severely, and their mortality rate is significantly higher compared to the rest of the population.

This is why those who are not at risk, in order to prevent the possibility that they might pass on the virus to someone who is more vulnerable.

What are the effects of COVID-19 on those at risk?

You’ve probably heard about people with COVID-19 having mild, moderate, and severe symptoms. But what exactly do each of these symptoms mean?

Here’s a quick rundown of each of those symptoms:

  • Mild symptoms are similar to flu symptoms, with most experiencing body pains and dry cough. In many instances, drinking enough fluids and getting enough rest can help manage these symptoms.
  • Moderate symptoms can include high fever, dehydration, and in some cases, difficulty breathing. Though this can be managed at home, it’s advisable to consult a doctor. Moderate COVID-19 symptoms can develop into pneumonia, which can cause further complications.
  • Severe symptoms can include both the mild and moderate symptoms, as well as trouble breathing. There’s also the possibility that the patient might go into lung failure, and that can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

Why are those with existing health problems more at risk for COVID-19?

One of the main reasons why people who have health problems are at a higher risk 3 for severe illness is because of the way COVID-19 attacks the body. COVID-19 mostly targets a person’s lungs. So those with lung conditions, or whose lungs have been weakened due to illness, can potentially experience more severe symptoms.

Additionally, people who have underlying health conditions find it harder to fight off the virus. In the case of those with cancer, HIV, or with weak immune systems, their bodies just can’t keep up with the rate of infection.

For people with conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, kidney problems, etc., having COVID-19 on top of those conditions greatly compounds the strain on their body. There’s also the possibility that a person with the virus and a preexisting condition can develop sepsis, or uncontrolled infection which can then result in organ failure.

Being part of the at risk population does not necessarily mean that it’s easier for them to get infected. And there have been people who have recovered from COVID-19, despite being a part of the at risk population.

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, 4 in the Philippines, the majority of deaths were people aged 39 to 88, with an average age of 66. 90% of those who died had a preexisting condition, such as diabetes, hypertension, or chronic kidney disease.

Are children and babies at risk?

Interestingly, children who have been infected with COVID-19 present fewer symptoms and usually experience mild symptoms compared to those at risk. Even compared with adults, children still exhibit far fewer symptoms. Additionally, fever and cough are the most common symptoms among children.

This also means that asymptomatic children could infect other people with COVID-19.

When it comes to dealing with COVID-19, taking account of children who are potentially asymptomatic is important since it can help give experts an idea of just how widespread an outbreak could potentially be.

Additionally, while children aren’t included in the list of who is at risk for COVID-19, we still don’t know enough about the virus and its behavior to say that children will be safe from harm.

We should not underestimate COVID-19

Some people might think that if they’re not a part of the at risk population, then COVID-19 is just like dealing with the flu. While that might be the case for some, we still don’t know a lot about the virus to confidently make that claim.

Staying at home and keeping yourself healthy means doing your part in tempering the spread of COVID-19. This helps slow down the infection, and gives our health care system some breathing room to handle incoming cases.

This also has the added benefit of lowering the chances that a person who is at risk for Covid-19 could acquire the virus, and can potentially save their life.

Those who experience any symptoms should consult their physicians to get themselves tested or practice self-quarantine in order to ensure that they won’t infect other people.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions | Johns Hopkins Medicine,, Accessed July 30 2020

How can you tell if coronavirus symptoms are mild, moderate or severe? | Ohio State Medical Center,, Accessed July 30 2020

Understanding how COVID-19 affects children vital to slowing pandemic, doctors say — ScienceDaily,, Accessed July 30 2020

Stop the Spread of Rumors | CDC,, Accessed July 30 2020

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situation Report 8 Philippines ,—documents/countries/philippines/emergencies/covid-19/who-phl-sitrep-8-covid-19-22mar2020.pdf?sfvrsn=1edc9dc7_2=, Accessed July 30 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Oct 28, 2020
Medically reviewed by Mike-Kenneth Go Doratan, M.D.