Experts Weigh in on COVID-19 Comorbid Risks


A collection of perspectives on how the virus is affecting patients outside of infectious disease.


The understanding of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is still evolving—as is clinical interpretation of how it affects patients outside the realms of infectious disease.

For a broader look of COVID-19’s burden on patients, here’s a collection of insights gathered by sister publication HCPLive®.

Kidney Disease May Drive Worse COVID-19

Alan S. Kilger, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine, discussed the difficulties many different patients with kidney disease face in COVID-19 progression—particularly those with chronic or late-stage disease.

“We know that chronic kidney disease patients, including dialysis patients, are more likely to become infected,” Kilger said. “And we know if infected they have a substantially worse prognosis than people without kidney disease.”

The immune-impair patients are doubly at risk when in need of inpatient care, including dialysis, in situations which may not be conducive to social distancing parameters, he explained.

Opioid-Related Overdoses are on the Rise During the Pandemic

Social isolation, depression, anxiety, and economic burden are among the many factors that have resulted in a boom of overdoses and deaths among people with opioid addiction.

Paul Christo, MD, a professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, discussed the potential of the US surpassing overdose and related death rates posted in 2019—driven largely by public health and societal issues that are affecting the wellbeing of nations at a time.

There’s hope that good news in the way of COVID-19 prevention may limit the burden the pandemic may play on this longtime epidemic.

“I think that once we get a vaccine—which hopefully will come soon—we will see fewer opioid overdoses and fewer overdoses related to drugs,” Christo said.

Telepsychiatry May Come Out Better Due to COVID-19

A potential benefit for the field of mental health post-pandemic: at least one expert anticipates the required social distancing and lockdown measures set in place have incentivized the future use and practice of telemedicine in psychiatry.

Michael R Liebowitz, MD, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, countered the negative effect of the ongoing, indefinite virus with the suggestion that persons in need of mental health care may have found it—and in a more accessible format than they previously anticipated.

“We have no idea how long this is going to last and we don’t really have a clear idea of what it’s going to be like when we come out of this and how much we come out of this,” Liebowitz said. “There are some potential benefits that could come out of this as well.”

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