Funny enough, having asthma wasn’t something that was at the front of my mind until recently. Even when the debate about pre-existing medical conditions heated up, I never worried about asthma. It rarely bothered me as an adult (other than a poorly thought out trip to a stock show, which I didn’t realize would be a bunch of closed spaces full of animal dander). Then the reports of young people with “underlying medical conditions” doing worse with Covid-19 starting surfacing. And documents which mention underlying medical conditions listed “chronic lung disease,” but hard data on asthma weren’t there. However, according to the CDC, asthma is included in this group. Then a nurse with no other problems except for asthma died in New York City. And I started to think my faulty airways were a real liability.
Though the CDC still cautions that those with moderate to severe asthma may be at an increased risk of getting severely ill, data is emerging which reports that asthma may not be a risk factor. This batch of data from New York City lists out (finally) the top 10 underlying medical conditions of those who have died from the disease: hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, dementia, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, renal disease, cancer, and congestive heart failure.
While asthmatics may have been given a change to exhale (I know, I’ll see myself out), I still have so many questions. If the cytokine storm is playing some role in late disease progression of those with severe illness from Covid-19, how could an underlying lung which seems to overreact to stimuli by constricting airways play a role? Does atopy play a role? Would routine use of medicines which impede histamines help or hinder a lung to react appropriately when infected with corona virus? While I’m always happy to receive new data, for now I think I will keep my mask on.
Special thanks to my friend (TM) for sharing the new data. A girl can’t ask for a better research assistant! :)