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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UGA: Gauging Coronavirus Threat for Sensitive Populations

Coronavirus could be particularly dangerous for vulnerable populations like pregnant women and people who are immunocompromised, but influenza remains a larger threat, according to Dr. José Cordero, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the University of Georgia College of Public Health.

At the advent of the Zika epidemic in 2015, Dr. Cordero assisted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with Zika surveillance and prevention efforts in Puerto Rico and soon became an expert on the risks Zika posed to expectant mothers. Now, Dr. Cordero sees a potential risk for expectant mothers and their babies amidst the current COVID-19 outbreak.

“If we look at the experience with other coronaviruses like SARS or MERS, there seems to be an increased risk of mortality for pregnant women but also a higher rate adverse outcomes in babies or pregnancies,” said Dr. Cordero.

“So, we don’t know for sure what will happen with this coronavirus, but it would be a likely consequence that there might be a higher risk. Now having said that, it is important to just also look at influenza, and in influenza it’s clear that pregnant women have a much higher risk of mortality from having the infection. For example, a woman that may be 21 years old and pregnant the risk of having very severe influenza or die from influenza is as high as that of if she were 65 years old.”

Dr. Cordero goes on to outline how people can protect themselves from respiratory diseases.

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