With the pandemic raging, there’s research going on to find factors that might contribute to the severity of illness a person experiences. Several recent studies have found that individuals who have extra weight are more vulnerable. Two different studies highlight the connection between obesity and COVID-19. The first showed that obese people who contracted the virus were more than twice as likely to end up in the hospital and almost 50% more likely to die. The second study looked at nearly 17,000 patients hospitalized with the virus and discovered that 77% were overweight or obese.

There are many reasons why this might be the case. Numerous experiments have shown that extra fat can disrupt the body’s immune system, causing disproportionate amounts of inflammation in the body. Excessive fat tissue can compress the lower parts of the lungs, making it harder for people to breathe. The person’s blood also seems more predisposed to clotting, which can block blood vessels resulting in complications, such as stroke or heart attack. The tissue releases hormones and other chemicals that can negatively impact nearby cells. Another problem is that obesity tends to accompany other medical issues, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Both of these can make it more challenging for the body to effectively fight the virus.

According to Dr. Melinda Beck, who studies how nutrition affects immunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the issue of obesity doesn’t just apply to treating the disease but preventing it. This is due to the fact the immune systems of obese people are more prone to pathogen amnesia. When it comes to a vaccine, these individuals might need different dosages and some products might not work at all. Since most of the leading drug developers aren’t even looking at how weight impacts the effectiveness of their vaccine, there could be issues with how well they work for the majority of Americans.

While some medical conditions are influencing the severity of COVID-19, others are being drastically affected by it. A few years ago, the opioid epidemic was out of control. Through increased awareness and many interventions, the number of people dying from it started to decline. Unfortunately, since the pandemic began, the number of deaths has risen sharply. Data from the American Medical Association indicates that over 40 states have recorded increases in opioid-related deaths since the pandemic began.

Experts are attributing the surge in opioid deaths to a couple of factors. The first is programs designed to provide assistance were closed in the early part of the pandemic due to health and safety concerns. Another issue is that most people were furloughed or let go, so they were spending large amounts of time at home with nothing else to do except think about what caused them to start using in the first place. In addition, with government assistance checks, they had the money to afford opioids.

COVID-19 has also changed how we go to the doctor. Early in the pandemic, doctors’ offices were closed and physicians began seeing patients via virtual visits. Since there were no other options to get care, most insurance companies covered these appointments at the regular in-office visit rate.

However, starting on October 1st, many insurers are changing their rules. It can vary depending on the type of plan and purpose of your visit. There’re also different deadlines, reimbursement strategies, and charges. Doctors are afraid that patients will find it so confusing that they’ll cancel their telehealth appointments and either not go to the doctor when they should or schedule an in-person visit when they shouldn’t because it’ll increase their chances of catching COVID-19.