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Comorbidity-stratified estimates of 30-day mortality risk by age for unvaccinated men and women with COVID-19: a population-based cohort study


Background — The mortality risk following COVID-19 diagnosis in men and women with common comorbidities at different ages has been difficult to communicate to the general public. The purpose of this study was to determine the age at which unvaccinated men and women with common comorbidities have a mortality risk which exceeds that of 75- and 65-year-old individuals in the general population (Phases 1b/1c thresholds of the Centre for Disease Control Vaccine Rollout Recommendations) following COVID-19 infection during the first wave.

Methods — We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study using linked administrative datasets in Ontario, Canada. We identified all community-dwelling adults diagnosed with COVID-19 between January 1 and October 31st, 2020. Exposures of interest were age (modelled using restricted cubic splines) and the following conditions: major cardiovascular disease (recent myocardial infarction or lifetime history of heart failure); 2) diabetes; 3) hypertension; 4) recent cancer; 5) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; 6) Stages 4/5 chronic kidney disease (CKD); 7) frailty. Logistic regression in the full cohort was used to estimate the risk of 30-day mortality for 75- and 65-year-old individuals. Analyses were repeated after stratifying by sex and medical condition to determine the age at which 30-day morality risk in strata exceed that of the general population at ages 65 and 75 years.

Results — We studied 52,429 individuals (median age 42 years; 52.5% women) of whom 417 (0.8%) died within 30 days. The 30-day mortality risk increased with age, male sex, and comorbidities. The 65- and 75-year-old mortality risks in the general population were exceeded at the youngest age by people with CKD, cancer, and frailty. Conversely, women aged < 65 years who had diabetes or hypertension did not have higher mortality than 65-year-olds in the general population. Most people with medical conditions (except for Stage 4–5 CKD) aged < 45 years had lower predicted mortality than the general population at age 65 years.

Conclusion — The mortality risk in COVID-19 increases with age and comorbidity but the prognostic implications varied by sex and condition. These observations can support communication efforts and inform vaccine rollout in jurisdictions with limited vaccine supplies.



Abdel-Qadir H, Austin PC, Sivaswamy A, Chu A, Wijeysundera HC, Lee DS. BMC Public Health. 2023; 23(1):482. Epub 2023 Mar 13.

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