KEY POINTS

  • Those with health conditions are at higher risk if infected with COVID-19
  • Having weak immune systems is particularly dangerous if infected
  • Persons suffering from autoimmune diseases are also at higher risk

The UK Prime Minister announced the government would impose new measures in an attempt to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. These measures are designed to protect the most vulnerable people in the country, particularly those who are over 70 years old, pregnant women, and those who often have the flu vaccine. The latter group includes people suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and those with weak immune systems.

Risky Underlying Health Conditions

According to Public Health England, having a coronavirus infection can be life-threatening to people who have weak immune systems and those with chronic illnesses. Examples of these chronic illnesses are heart disease, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, and high blood pressure.

The health services of Ireland added several more underlying conditions to the list. These include HIV patients, persons who have had a bone marrow or organ transplant, asthmatics, and those being treated for cancer or any of the autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Addison's disease, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, pernicious anemia, and psoriasis, increase the risk of developing serious to deadly complications from coronavirus infection. Other autoimmune diseases included in the list are Hashimoto's thyroiditis, autoimmune vasculitis, type 1 diabetes, Graves’ disease, myasthenia gravis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Sjogren's syndrome.

Coronavirus And Autoimmune Diseases

This is a unique medical condition where your immune system attacks your body. Normally, your immune system would protect the body from viruses and bacteria. If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly sees normal body parts as foreign cells. This misidentification causes it to release autoantibodies, which then attack the healthy cells. This is why patients with autoimmune diseases are at higher risk of getting infected with coronavirus and developing more serious complications.

Oftentimes, patients with autoimmune diseases are treated with immunosuppressant medication. While this may help the patient cope with the chronic ailment, it also increases the risk of coronavirus infection.

Records indicate there are approximately 12,000 children and young people living with an autoimmune disease in the UK. This is a cause of great concern among their families.

A Necessary Sacrifice

Wesley Baker, the CEO of ANCON Medical and a father of a 14-year-old boy with autoimmune disease, said he considers his child among the vulnerable pointed to by the government. This is why he opted to isolate his son in his room in an attempt to minimize the risk to him.

They also ensure their home environment is clean, using high-quality hand cleaners and masks that they bought weeks ago. They had also arranged for his son to continue his education through Skype instead of having his teachers visit him.