Who are the vulnerable people?
Text updated on 2020-05-05
Vulnerable individuals are those who are more likely to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and have a severe form of COVID-19.
- the elderly (>65 years of age): they are 50% more likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 than adults under 65 years of age and their symptoms are often more severe.
- people with signs of co-morbidity such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular or respiratory problems, kidney failure or immune deficiency: they are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop serious symptoms.
- Caregivers who are in prolonged contact with people with COVID-19: they are therefore more likely to be infected.
- hospitalized persons
- people who live or work or are in contact with a lot of people (retirement homes, communities for the disabled, etc.)
- people who cannot improve the hygiene of their environment on their own (the homeless, prisoners, people with physical or psychological difficulties).
Vulnerable people need to be more careful and rigorous with barrier gestures. Less at-risk people can help more vulnerable people by reducing their risk of infection: limiting their movements (e.g., by shopping for them), improving the hygiene of their environment and not leaving them alone (psychologically and materially supporting the homeless, residents of retirement homes, communities, or prisons...). Above all, we all must respect the barrier gestures! In many ways, we are all vulnerable and all responsible for ourselves and others.
Meta-analysis of COVID-19 cases in Chinese hospitals: older people or people with co-morbidities (diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular or respiratory problems) were more likely to have severe symptoms.Yang, J., Zheng, Y., Gou, X., Pu, K., Chen, Z., Guo, Q., ... Zhou, Y. (2020). Prevalence of comorbidities and its effects in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 94, 91-95.
Summary of studies of pregnant women with COVID-19: they are not at increased risk of developing severe symptoms.Monteleone, P. A., Nakano, M., Lazar, V., Gomes, A. P., de, H., Martin, & Bonetti, T. C. (2020). A review of initial data on pregnancy during the COVID-19 outbreak: implications for assisted reproductive treatments. JBRA assisted reproduction, 24(2), 219-225.
An analysis of questionnaires on deaths for COVID-19 in nursing homes in Italy: 40.2% of the people who died in these facilities were COVID+ cases or had symptoms related to COVID-19. 18.2% of the staff tested positive for COVID-19.Survey nazionale sul contagio COVID-19 nelle strutture residenziali e sociosanitarie, Istituto Superiore di Sanità. Epidemia COVID-19, Aggiornamento nazionale: 14 aprile 2020.
An early study in Boston, USA, estimates that the incidence of COVID-19 among the homeless is 4.6%, while in the rest of the population it is 0.2%.Baggett, T. P., Lewis, E., & Gaeta, J. M. (2020). Epidemiology of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness: Early evidence from Boston. Annals of Family Medicine, COVID-19 Collection.
Obese people have a greater risk of developing a severe form of the disease COVID-19 than non-obese people.Stefan, N., Birkenfeld, A. L., Schulze, M. B., & Ludwig, D. S. (2020). Obesity and impaired metabolic health in patients with COVID-19. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 1-2.