These people are particularly at risk


Corona risk groups include people whose bodies are weakened, whether due to old age or chronic illness. Your risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 is no higher than that of other people. However, they are more likely to have a severe course.

Coronavirus: more dangerous for the elderly

From the age of 50, the risk of a severe course of COVID-19 lung disease increases steadily – people over 70 need to be treated in hospital especially often. The Most deaths occur in people over the age of 80.

The reason for the higher risk for older people: with age, the efficiency of the immune system decreases; the body’s defenses can no longer cope with pathogens so easily. Additionally, older people are more often affected by underlying diseases such as the heart or metabolism.

Ways of infection in the population


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Cystic fibrosis, diabetes and the like – previous diseases increase the risk

A chronic disease weakens the body: this can become a problem with a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Underlying diseases that increase the risk of a severe course of COVID-19 include chronic lung disease for example:

Further Underlying diseases and circumstances that make a severe course more likely, we are:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancers
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Suppressed immune system (immune deficiency caused by disease or immune system inhibited by drugs such as cortisone)

If an older person suffers from an underlying disease, the risk of a severe course of COVID-19 is even greater because two risk factors – age and previous illness – come together. The same goes for People with multiple pre-existing conditions – Doctors assume their risk is higher than that of people with only one underlying disease.

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Recently identified corona risk group: pregnant women

So far, pregnant women have not been considered a risk group for a severe course of Covid-19. That changed with a study recently published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Although most pregnant women become infected with SARS-CoV-2 without symptoms, Compared to non-pregnant women of the same age, pregnant women have a 70% higher risk of dying from Covid-19.

According to the study, the risk of ending up in the intensive care unit with Covid-19 or needing ventilation is greater for pregnant women than for non-pregnant peers. For the study, the team led by study leader Sascha Ellington evaluated data from 23,434 pregnant and 386,028 non-pregnant women with Covid-19.

However: women in the age group examined (15-44 years) are very rarely affected by severe courses of Covid-19. Pregnant women still have a relatively low risk of developing Covid-19 and undergoing a severe course. However, the study authors advise expectant mothers to adhere to applicable precautionary measures with special care and get vaccinated against the flu.

Do smokers also belong to corona risk groups?

According to medical experts, smokers also belong to the corona risk groups. According to this, first, frequent previous lung damage in smokers increases the risk of a severe course; secondly, there are indications that a certain enzyme is produced more and more when smoking, which allows the virus to “enter” the cells of the body. However, the data situation regarding the risk of a severe course in smokers is still generally poor. However, doctors continue to advise smokers to quit smoking – quitting smoking could make it easier for the body to deal with the virus.

Protection of groups at risk: the population is required

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) advises people in corona risk groups to strictly adhere to the following precautionary measures:

  • regular and thorough hand washing
  • Keep your distance from the sick
  • Limit your contacts

But the rest of the population is also in demand: Doctors ask people to pay special attention to people in corona risk groups and, if possible, to take on tasks such as shopping in times of new high infections.


Information and assistance for people with a higher risk of serious COVID-19 disease, in:

Coronavirus: Information for people with lung diseases, in:

Ellington, Sascha, et al. (2020): Characteristics of Women of Reproductive Age with Laboratory Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection Based on Pregnancy Status – United States, Jan.22-Jun.7, 2020, in: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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