Countries where more than half the population is overweight, such as the US and the UK, have recorded much higher death rates from Covid-19, according to a report released Wednesday by the World Obesity Forum.
The research found that by the end of 2020, global coronavirus death tolls were more than 10 times higher in nations where over half the adults are overweight, compared to those where fewer than half are overweight.
Using mortality data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the team discovered that of 2.5 million Covid-19 deaths reported by the end of February, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half the population is overweight. Mortality rates also increased along with countries' prevalence of obesity. The researchers also noted that the link persisted even after adjusting for age and national wealth.
The findings follow hundreds of worldwide studies, which also confirmed the increased need for medical care for Covid-19 patients who are overweight, the report notes. A study in China found overweight people had 84% increased odds for developing a severe form of the disease. Another US study found obese people were more than twice as likely to need hospitalization and more than six times as likely to die, or need mechanically assisted breathing, after developing Covid-19.
The authors of the World Obesity Forum report have called for people living with obesity to be prioritized for coronavirus testing and vaccination. "Covid-19 is not the first respiratory viral infection exacerbated by overweight. Data from the last two decades on the impact of MERS, H1N1 influenza and other influenza-related infections show worse outcomes linked to excess bodyweight," the study added. "An overweight population is an unhealthy population, and a pandemic waiting to happen."
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: How many cases caused by Covid-19 variants are there in the US?
A: At least 2,581 cases of coronavirus variants first spotted in the UK, South Africa and Brazil have been reported in the US, according to data updated Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The vast majority of these infections, 2,506, are caused by the more contagious strain known as B.1.1.7, which was originally detected in the UK. In addition, 65 cases have been reported of a variant initially seen in South Africa, called B.1.351. Lastly, 10 cases of the P.1 variant first found in Brazil have been discovered in five states.
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WHAT'S IMPORTANT TODAY
'Neanderthal thinking.' Biden slams Texas and Mississippi for lifting restrictions
US President Joe Biden sharply criticized states such as Texas and Mississippi for lifting Covid-19 restrictions and mask mandates against pleas from the CDC and other top public health officials, accusing those in power of "Neanderthal thinking.
"I think it's a big mistake. Look, I hope everybody's realized by now, these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we're able to get vaccines in people's arms," Biden said when asked about the decisions by the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi to relax restrictions.
Russian vaccine expands its reach in Latin America while Cuba goes its own way
Russia's Sputnik V shot has seen rising popularity across Latin America as more countries announce shipments and deals to purchase the Covid-19 vaccine. Nine Latin American countries have approved its use. The shot is cheaper and can be stored at higher temperatures than the Pfizer vaccine, which has made it appealing to Latin American countries with less-developed economies and infrastructures.
Meanwhile, Cuba is making its own vaccines. Starting in March, two of the island's four homegrown vaccine candidates will begin their third and final trials, the Cuban government has announced. For much of 2020, Cuba was able to keep the spread of the pandemic under control but a bungled reopening to international travelers in December led to a surge in cases.
Spanish princesses' vaccinations abroad spark controversy at home
Two Spanish princesses, who got vaccinated against Covid-19 in the United Arab Emirates much earlier than they would have back in Spain, have sparked outrage for skipping the vaccine line. Several Spanish ministers on Wednesday publicly criticized the two princesses, Elena and Cristina, who were inoculated while visiting their father, Spain's former King Juan Carlos, in Abu Dhabi, where he's living.
In response to media reports about the vaccination, Princess Elena said in a statement they took the shot with the aim of a getting a health passport so that they could visit their father regularly. A royal household spokesman noted that while they are sisters of Spain's King Felipe, the princesses have not had any official duties as members of the royal family since at least 2014.
ON OUR RADAR
- As Covid-19 cases continue to slide, California may soon allow fans to attend Major League Baseball games.
- While vaccines will be available for all US adults by the end of May, teenagers will still have to wait until the fall, Dr. Anthony Fauci says.
- The B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant first seen in the UK is more contagious than older circulating versions of the virus and it's likely to drive a large new surge of infections, research suggests.
- A global fake Covid-19 vaccine distribution network has been dismantled in South Africa and China.
- The US is still holding firm to the strategy of administering two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines a few weeks apart.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Oates and his wife Aimee are reviving the Oates Song Fest 7908 to fundraise for Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief organization.
The economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic is driving up food insecurity across the US. Feeding America estimates that one in six Americans could face food insecurity as a result of the pandemic.
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The coronavirus has fundamentally changed the American workplace, but which changes can we expect to stick around permanently? Hewitt, a remote work expert, shares his predictions for the post-pandemic future of office work. Listen now.