The aim of this study was to investigate how age and underlying medical conditions affect the risk of severe outcomes following SARS-CoV-2 infection and how they should be weighed while prioritising vaccinations against COVID-19.
This population-based register study includes all SARS-CoV-2 PCR-test-positive cases until 24 Feb 2021, based on the Finnish National Infectious Diseases Register. The cases were linked to other registers to identify presence of predisposing factors and severe outcomes (hospitalisation, intensive care treatment, death). The odds of severe outcomes were compared in those with and without the pre-specified predisposing factors using logistic regression. Furthermore, population-based rates were compared between those with a given predisposing factor and those without any of the specified predisposing factors using negative binomial regression.
Age and various comorbidities were found to be predictors of severe COVID-19. Compared to 60-69-year-olds, the odds ratio (OR) of death was 7.1 for 70-79-year-olds, 26.7 for 80-89-year-olds, and 55.8 for ≥ 90-year-olds. Among the 20-69-year-olds, chronic renal disease (OR 9.4), malignant neoplasms (5.8), hematologic malignancy (5.6), chronic pulmonary disease (5.4), and cerebral palsy or other paralytic syndromes (4.6) were strongly associated with COVID-19 mortality; severe disorders of the immune system (8.0), organ or stem cell transplant (7.2), chronic renal disease (6.7), and diseases of myoneural junction and muscle (5.5) were strongly associated with COVID-19 hospitalisation. Type 2 diabetes and asthma, two very common comorbidities, were associated with all three outcomes, with ORs from 2.1 to 4.3. The population-based rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection decreased with age. Taking the 60-69-year-olds as reference, the rate ratio was highest (3.0) for 20-29-year-olds and < 1 for 70-79-year-olds and 80-89-year-olds.
Comorbidities predispose for severe COVID-19 among younger ages. In vaccine prioritisation both the risk of infection and the risk of severe outcomes, if infected, should be considered.

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