The chance of dying from COVID-19 for different risk factors in South Africa

People with tuberculosis (TB) and HIV are more likely to die from COVID-19, but they’re still better off than people living with hypertension and diabetes.

This was one of the findings which the Western Cape’s Department of Health shared in a recent panel discussion.

Professor Mary-Ann Davies, director at the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research at the University of Cape Town, shed further light on the latest data.

According to a presentation by Davies, current risk factors for dying from COVID-19 include older age, being male, diabetes, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and liver disease.

People who are overweight, have had an organ transplant, or were recently diagnosed with cancer also have a higher chance of dying from the coronavirus.

Research by the Western Cape’s Department of Health has shown that people with TB and HIV are also more likely to die from COVID-19.

The chance of dying from COVID-19 for different risk factors

Davies’ presentation provided the hazard ratio of dying from COVID-19 for different risk factors, including age, gender, and underlying diseases.

The hazard ratio shows how much more likely a person with one of these risk factors is to die from COVID-19 than someone without the risk factor.

For example, males have a hazard ratio of 1.40. This means a male has a 40% higher chance than a female from dying from COVID-19.

Chances of dying from COVID-19 for different risk factors
Patient Characteristics Hazard ratio
Sex
Female 1.00
Male 1.40
Age
Younger than 40 years 1.00
40-49 years 3.12
50-59 years 9.92
60-69 years 13.55
Older than 70 years 19.53
Non-communicable diseases
None 1.00
Diabetes well controlled (HbA1c <7%) 4.65
Diabetes poorly controlled (HbA1c 7 – 9%) 8.99
Diabetes uncontrolled (HbA1c >9%) 13.02
Diabetes – no measure of control 3.34
Hypertension 1.46
Chronic kidney disease 2.02
Chronic pulmonary disease 0.98
Tuberculosis
Never tuberculosis 1.00
Previous tuberculosis 1.41
Current tuberculosis 2.58
HIV
Negative 1.00
Positive 2.75

Factors contributing to COVID-19 deaths in the Western Cape

The presentation by Davies also showed how much each risk factor contributed to COVID-19 deaths in the Western Cape.

The data showed that for every 100 people in the public sector who died from COVID-19, 52 can be attributed to diabetes.

19 of the deaths can be attributed to high blood pressure, 9 to kidney disease, 12 to HIV, two to current TB infections and four to previous TB infections.

The image below provides an overview of how much each risk factor contributed to COVID-19 deaths.

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The chance of dying from COVID-19 for different risk factors in South Africa