By Michaela Tangan, Features Writer, The Philippine STAR

With the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, everyone is put ina new battleground.Hence, moreknowledge about the disease is essential. According to experts, there are certain groups of people whoare at higher risk for developing severe illness due to COVID-19.


The COVID-19 attacks healthy cells, especially the ones in the respiratory tree (nose, throat, lungs), making smokers who are likely to have lung disease or reduced lung capacity more at risk of developing severe complications.

The World Health Organization (WHO) explained, “The act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips, which increases the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth.”

“Smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings,” WHO added.


Current data points that people with underlying medical conditions — chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, chronic kidney disease, serious heart conditions, diabetes, immune deficiencies, and severe obesity — record higher COVID-19 deaths.

This group’s immune defenses are weak, do not function normally, and thus have reduced the ability to fight and recover when the virus infects their healthy cells.


Current clinical data show that older adults are at higher risk of severe illness and even death associated with COVID-19.

Italy has recorded a high fatality rate due to its aging population.

People’s immune systems weaken in time, making the elderly more vulnerable to all types of infections and at risk of developing severe disease due to COVID-19, especially if they have pre-existing conditions.


Women’s immune system is complex during pregnancy. They are advised to take extra precautionary measures to avoid any sickness as this might harm or affect the growth and development of unborn babies.

As of now, it is unclear if pregnant women with COVID-19 can transmit the virus to their babies. However, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the UK is looking into the probability of mother-to-baby transmission of COVID-19 during pregnancy or birth after reporting a single case where this scenario appears likely.

In China, some mothers with COVID-19 symptoms reportedly deliver their babies prematurely to save both from possible complications or death.