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Scientists Claim Being Fat Triggers Immune Response To Coronavirus

Coronavirus PHOTO: dowell / Getty Images

Scientists advising the United Kingdom government ministers are exploring potential underlying mechanisms that could increase the risk of death for obese patients.

According to data from intensive care units, people of a healthy weight make up a minority of critically ill COVID-19 patients. Almost three quarters are carrying extra weight.


In the report by The Daily Mail, NHS hospital data this week revealed obesity raises the risk of dying from coronavirus by nearly 40 percent.

While the reasons remain unclear, scientists have warned of a potentially dysfunctional immune system that makes fighting the virus more difficult.

Fat cells of which there are more in the tissues of obese people may harbour vital immune cells, reducing their availability in the rest of the body.

Or it may swing the other way, the immune response may go into overdrive, known as a cytokine storm, which is thought to play a major role in COVID-19 death.

There hasn’t been data to suggest obese people are more likely to catch the killer virus in the first place.

As the death toll of the virus in the UK reaches more than 28,000, data collecting from NHS hospitals has revealed those most at risk.

It includes those with obesity, those with underlying health conditions, and people of BAME backgrounds. Men also account for more than 70 per cent of patients.

There are a higher proportion of people with obesity in critical care than in the general population, according to the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre, which collects data from NHS hospitals.

The figures, released on Friday, are based on a sample of 7,542 critically-ill patients confirmed as having Covid-19.

The analysis of 17,000 COVID-19 admissions found death rates were 37 percent higher among obese patients, second only to dementia (39 percent) but more than heart disease (31 percent).

The research was conducted by a team of Britain’s top infectious disease scientists who are part of the pandemic-planning global body.

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