We have been living with this world-changing pandemic for a while now and most of us probably feel that we know enough about it. Certainly, we know that it is the elderly and those with pre-existing illness, also known as comorbidities, that are most at risk (while the young and the well are at low, but not no, risk). But which comorbidities are most important?

As ever, we need to remind readers that this is a brand-new virus and a totally new illness, about which we are learning more every day. There is more to know so please keep up to date as science progresses here. But as things stand (early 2021) we can say the following with fair confidence…

Anyone with these conditions is at increased risk of becoming severely ill with Covid-19:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes Type 2
  • Obesity (BMI >30)
  • Heart disease
  • Emphysema (aka COPD)
  • Kidney failure
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Down Syndrome
  • Immunocompromised (any cause of a weakened immune system)

Anyone with these conditions may be at increased risk of becoming severely ill with Covid-19:

  • Asthma
  • High blood pressure
  • Dementia (including Alzheimers)
  • Overweight (BMI > 25 but < 30)
  • Liver disease (all types)
  • Diabetes Type 1

What about HIV? This has been, and is, an important question. It appears that HIV positive persons, who are on proper ARV treatment have no or very little increased risk. But an HIV positive person who is not on treatment, or not compliant with treatment, is very likely to have a weak immune system and this will mean increased risk of a poor outcome with Covid-19. The message is simple: know your HIV status and get onto treatment if necessary.

If you have any of these risk-increasing conditions, here are some suggestions for you:

  1. Continue with your care. Keep taking chronic medications. Attend your follow-up appointments. If you do fear crowded waiting rooms and pharmacy queues etc. you can perhaps arrange a telephone consultation with your doctor and you can ask the pharmacy to deliver your medication (most do).
  2. Given the uncertain nature of lockdowns etc. we suggest trying to keep a 2 or 3-month supply of medication at all times, just in case.
  3. Pay special attention to protecting yourself and others: hand-washing, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, etc. You know the drill, but the crucial point is that it is even more important for you than for some others.
  4. Do not panic. You may have an increased-risk profile but it is still true that most people who contract coronavirus recover fully, even those with comorbidities. Increased risk does not mean that a poor outcome is inevitable.

This short article is not detailed and its lists are not comprehensive. But the most important comorbidities are shown here so please take note of any that affect you or your family. Then, take care and do not panic.