Around 22 percent of the world population ie almost 1.7 million people have at least one underlying health condition and thus could fall prey to severe coronavirus or COVID-19 if they get infected, as per a study that used data from 188 countries.

The study that was published in The Lancet Global Health, however, provides an idea of the number of people the government should focus on for protective measures, although not all of the people having these conditions will suffer severely due to the disease if infected. The authors made an estimation that around four percent of the world population might need hospitalization.

Study Used Data of 188 Countries

Wuhan Coronavirus
Twitter / Imran Iftikhar

The Associate Professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Dr Andrew Clark said, " As countries move out of lockdown, governments are looking for ways to protect the most vulnerable from a virus that is still circulating. We hope our estimates will provide useful starting points for designing measures to protect those at increased risk of severe disease.

"This might involve advising people with underlying conditions to adopt social distancing measures appropriate to their level of risk, or prioritizing them for vaccination in the future," he added.

The WHO and other public health agencies have published guidelines that identify risk factors for severe coronavirus, which include cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes. The researchers cautioned that the study was focused on the underlying conditions and did not include the probable risk factors for COVID-19 that are not given in the guidelines.

Global Burden of Diseases Data Used

The estimates of the study were based on the data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2017, UN estimates of population in 2020, and the list of the underlying health conditions relevant to COVID-19. The scientists analyzed the number of people with the underlying condition by age group, country, sex for 188 nations.

The researchers also calculated the extent of the risk for the people as countries having younger population have fewer people with at least one of the underlying health conditions compared to those having the older population. As per the research, 23 percent of people who fall under the working-age population is estimated to have at least one of the underlying condition while males are twice as likely as females to require hospitalization if they get infected.

The deadly virus outbreak has created a major stir around the world in recent times infecting more than eight million people globally and claiming the lives of more than 437,000 worldwide in more than 170 countries. The virus that probably originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan located in the Hubei province is currently spreading like wildfire. The US is the worst affected country followed by Brazil and Russia.