Schizophrenia Second Behind Age as Greatest Risk Factor for COVID-19 Death

Transmission electron microscope image showing SARS-CoV-2. (Wikimedia Commons)

A new study finds that people with schizophrenia are nearly three times more likely to die from COVID-19. This association is not due to other comorbidities, such as heart disease, diabetes, and smoking.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry on January 27, was led by researchers at N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine. It found that schizophrenia is easily the biggest risk factor after age (schizophrenia poses a 2.7 times greater risk, while ages of 75 and above pose a 35.7 times greater risk).

“With this newfound understanding, healthcare providers can better prioritize vaccine distribution, testing, and medical care for this group,” says study lead author Katlyn Nemani, M.D., in a press release from N.Y.U. Langone Health (from which this article is derived).

Dr. Nemani believes one likely reason is an immune system disturbance, perhaps connected to the genetics of the disorder. Study senior author Donald C. Goff, M.D., says they plan to investigate whether antipsychotic drugs are also a factor.

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