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Tags Current Affairs

Chronic disease and COVID-19

Date: 21 March 2020 Tags: Reports & Indices


The COVID-19 outbreak has put the spotlight on several country-specific health indicators. A look at how India stands on pre-existing health conditions, age, and healthcare capacity.



The Global Burden of Disease data measure the burden in terms of “disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)”, which is defined as the number of years of healthy life lost.



  • Early research from Italy and China suggests that COVID-19 patients who died those countries were more likely to have had pre-existing health conditions, namely diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular diseases.

  • While experts have not yet finally concluded how exactly country-wide indicators interact with the spread of the outbreak, one factor may be these underlying diseases.

  • In comparison to six of the countries significantly affected by the outbreak, China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, India has a higher burden of cardiovascular diseases than four of these countries, but lower than China and the US.

  • For diabetes and kidney disease, India has a higher burden than Italy, China, and the UK, but lower than Iran, South Korea, and the US.

  • India’s cardiovascular disease burden in 2017 was 4,716 DALYs per 100,000 population, way behind China (6,020) and close to the US (4,814). India is followed by Italy (4.350), UK (4,005), and Iran (3,911).

  • South Korea has a very low burden with cardiovascular diseases, at 2,340 DALYs per 100,000 population. It was also one of the countries to experience heavy contraction of COVID-19 but not as many deaths as in the other hardest hit countries.

  • For diabetes and kidney disease, India was at 1,340 DALYs per 100,000 in 2017. Countries with a higher burden are the US (1,779), South Korea (1,447), and Iran (1,356), while Italy (1,266), China (1,068), and the UK (913) have a lower burden than India.

  • More than two-thirds of the deaths from COVID-19 in Italy were of patients with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, or cancer, or were of former smokers, according to research.

  • Research from Wuhan showed patients who developed acute respiratory distress syndrome after contracting COVID-19 had a mean age of 61 years and were more likely to have diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cerebrovascular disease.

The World Health Organization tracks country-wise data on hospital beds per 10,000 people. India stands at the lowest among the seven countries, at seven. Iran has 15, UK 28, US 29, Italy 34, China 42, South Korea 143.

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