Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, revealed the three factors that make the virus the most dangerous.
He was speaking in response to a question about why people from ethnic minority groups appear to have been disproportionately killed by the disease, reports the Manchester Evening News.
Some have suggested that economic factors, or the higher proportion of people from ethnic minorities working in the NHS, were the reasons for the worrying trend, but Professor Whitty admitted that the reasons were not yet completely clear.
But he highlighted three clear statistical factors known to suggest that a patient might be more likely to die from Covid-19.
“It is absolutely essential that we discover the groups most at risk so that we can help protect them,” he said.
“There are three things that are really clear – and the ethnicity is less clear. “
Professor Whitty said the government was “very keen” to find out why more people from ethnic minorities appear to be suffering from the disease and said Public Health England had been asked to investigate the matter in detail.
Other health problems
The British public has long known that the underlying health problems are the most likely reason why Covid-19 is dangerous.
Professor Whitty said 90% of those who died from the virus already had at least one other disease.
He listed cardiovascular disease as one of the conditions that many victims have suffered from so far.
The latest coronavirus death statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that among the deaths involving Covid-19 that occurred last month, there was at least one pre-existing condition in 91% of the cases.
The most common preexisting disease was ischemic heart disease, which was mentioned on 541 death certificates – 14% of deaths from the virus.
Next came dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (531 deaths), chronic lower respiratory diseases (495 deaths) and influenza and pneumonia (415 deaths).
According to the ONS, the death rate from coronaviruses increases significantly with each age group. The risk begins to increase for men 55 to 59 and 65 to 69 for women, increasing with each further increase in age.
Professor Whitty said it was “essential” to protect the elderly, with one in five deaths currently being between the ages of 80 and 84.
We don’t know why yet, but being a man is a “very clear risk factor” for dying from the disease, said Professor Whitty.
According to ONS data, almost twice as many men as women died from the coronavirus last month.
The ONS said the death rate for men from the coronavirus was “significantly higher” than for women.
The data revealed that there were 79.5 deaths per 100,000 people for men compared to 46.5 deaths per 100,000 people for women.