Portugal should consider the results of several scientific studies carried out in the United Kingdom that point to the added vulnerability to covid-19 of people with an African genetic background, defended a Portuguese researcher working in London.
“In Portugal, there are so many people from Angola, Cape Verde or Mozambique. These people have to know ”, said today to the agency Lusa Rui Providência, Cardiology Consultant at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and professor at University College of London (UCL).
The researcher warns that the risk is much higher than that identified in initial studies, even for people aged between 30 and 50 years, which is considered to be of low risk for the virus.
“Maybe they will have to be more careful and their employers will have to protect them much more”, he defended.
Rui Providência is one of the authors of a scientific article that reports on a study carried out between February and April based on a sample of 620 patients from different London hospitals infected with covid-19 and composed in a similar proportion by individuals of Caucasian ethnicity, from African or Caribbean origin and Asian origin, namely Indians and Chinese.
The conclusion is that there is a higher mortality in Asians and Africans, even if differences in populations are corrected, such as age and cardiovascular risk factors.
“Both groups have a higher mortality rate and this is important because it has implications not only in terms of prevention. It is important that these people know that they are exposed to a much greater risk and that, therefore, they have to be more careful ”, said the researcher to Lusa.
The study suggests that health professionals in these groups who are treating patients with covid-19 have to follow tighter preventive measures, for example, as masks that offer greater protection than surgical masks.
“The work shows that a 50-year-old Asian or African person is at risk compared to an 80-year-old Caucasian. It is almost like we are sending an 80 year old to the front ”, he simplified.
The study, which was added to the MedRXive database and has not yet been evaluated by other scientists, joins a series of studies in the same direction.
UCL academics reported earlier this month that they analyzed cases of patients who were diagnosed with covid-19 and died in English public hospitals between March 1 and April 21 and found that the risk of death from the virus is “two to three times greater ”for black people, Asians or other ethnic minorities than for the British population in general.
An analysis by the British National Statistics Institute (ONS) that took into account socioeconomic factors, also concluded that black citizens are twice as likely to die from the new coronavirus than white patients.
Other scientific studies have also pointed to an increased risk for people who are obese or have diabetes.
Although he is a cardiologist specializing in arrhythmic diseases, Rui Providência joined studies related to the covid-19 pandemic due to the urgency to understand the disease.
“There is a funny phenomenon: people from different fields, such as clinical researchers in cardiology, pulmonology and not only infectious diseases, have all focused on this problem because there are cardiac, renal, pulmonary and neurological manifestations”, he justified.
Recently, Rui Providência contributed to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine also related to the coronavirus, about two drugs used to treat cardiovascular conditions and which concluded that they do not increase the risk of viral infection.
“We know that influenza and coronavirus share a structure, the ACE2 receptor, where these cardiac drugs could have an effect, and there was some concern from both the scientific community and patients about whether they could continue to take these drugs,” he added.