Most people who catch COVID-19 will likely experience mild symptoms and be back to normal health within days. Some people, though, are more at risk of serious illness than others.
What is a risk group?
There are certain groups of people who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 in the first place, and of the illness hitting them harder if they do. Most importantly, being in a risk group means you are “at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus”, according to government guidance.
Broadly, there are four risk groups:
1 – Over-70s, regardless of any medical conditions.
2 – Under-70s who have an underlying health condition – in other words, adults who are advised to have the flu jab every year on medical grounds. This group includes people who have:
- Long-term respiratory or lung disease, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Long-term heart disease, like heart failure.
- Long-term kidney disease.
- Long-term liver disease, like hepatitis.
- Long-term neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, or a learning disability.
- Problems with their spleen like sickle cell anaemia, or have had their spleen removed.
- A weakened immune system, either as a result of a medical condition like HIV or AIDS, or as a result of medications like corticosteroids or chemotherapy.
- A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above (being severely obese).
3 – Pregnant women
4 – People with complex health problems that put them at even higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. This group includes people who:
- Have had an organ transplant and take medication to suppress their immune system.
- Have cancer and are currently having active chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment.
- Have blood or bone marrow cancer (like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma) and are at any stage of treatment.
- Have severe respiratory/lung conditions like cystic fibrosis or severe asthma that requires admission to hospital or treatment with corticosteroids.
- Have severe diseases of the body systems, like severe kidney disease that is managed with regular dialysis.