People with intellectual disabilities at high Covid-19 death risk

New York: In the first-of-its-kind study, researchers have claimed that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are more likely to die from Covid-19 than those without such conditions.

An intellectual or developmental disability, also called IDD, includes many severe, chronic conditions that are due to mental and physical impairments.

For the findings, published in the journal Disability and Health Journal, the researchers from Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University in the US, recently analyzed more than 30,000 people who tested positive for Covid-19.

According to the researchers, the disparity is likely related to a higher prevalence of comorbid diseases among those with IDD, or a higher percentage of people with IDD are living in congregate residential settings.

“More attention is needed to this vulnerable health population in order to ensure their safety and well-being during this pandemic,” said researcher Scott Landes from Syracuse University.

Every individual in this study had Covid-19, so rates are case-fatality rates that gave the researchers an idea of the severity of the disease among both groups.

Among ages 0-17, for every 100 individuals with Covid-19, 1.6 with IDD died and less than one without IDD died.

The findings showed that among ages 18-74, for every 100 individuals with Covid-19, 4.5 with IDD died compared to 2.7 without IDD.

Rates were similar for those 75 and over – for every 100 individuals with COVID-19, 21.1 with IDD died and 20.7 without IDD died.

“Based upon the case fatality rates we report among those ages 18-74 if 100,000 individuals with IDD contract COVID-19 – which is entirely possible in light of the estimates of the size of this population and the cumulative incidence rates we are seeing in our research – we would expect 4,500 to die,” Landes said.

“Comparatively, among 100,000 individuals without IDD, we would expect 2,700 to die. That would be an excess of 1,800 IDD deaths and in my mind that is unacceptable,” Landes added.

The researchers also found that individuals with IDD had a higher prevalence of comorbid circulatory, respiratory, and endocrine diseases across all age groups.

While they could not test causality in this data, it is possible this partly explains the differences they found in case-fatality rates.

Some of this difference may also be due to the higher percentage of individuals with IDD who reside in congregate settings – a characteristic the researchers could not account for in the study but are continuing to investigate.

As of Friday morning, the US has 1,721,479 confirmed cases and 101,573 deaths, both tallies account for the highest in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins University.


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