• Scientists still don’t have all of their questions answered yet about the coronavirus, including why so many people are dying from it when it seems to barely affect other infected people at all.
  • A new study from the UK, based on data from millions of patients, purports to be the largest such study yet of the virus and presents an authoritative look at the risk factors of dying from COVID-19.
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There’s still a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus at the heart of the pandemic that’s still sweeping across the globe, including why it leaves some infected people asymptomatic while ravaging the bodies of (and eventually killing) other people. Scientists, however, are racing to learn as much as they can about the deadly virus so that viable treatment options in the form of therapeutics and eventually a vaccine can be identified sooner rather than later.

A new study in the UK purports to be the largest such analysis to date and incorporates data from 17.4 million UK adults to give what might be our best look yet at the risk factors associated with dying from the coronavirus.

The study uses National Health Service (NHS) data from between February 1 and April 25 and comes from researchers at the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. According to one medical industry news source, this is the largest such coronavirus study “by any country to-date” and therefore represents the best look yet at the various risk factors associated with dying from the COVID-19 virus.

The study notes that people of Asian and black ethnic origin seem to be at a higher risk of dying from the coronavirus, compared to white people, though the factors behind that aren’t yet well-understood at this point. For example, some academic commentary has speculated about the possibility this is the result of a higher prevalence of health problems like diabetes and heart diseases in black and minority ethnic communities — but the new UK study says its data shows that “only accounts for a small part of the risk.”

Among other risk factors, meanwhile, the study confirms that men are at a higher risk of dying from the virus, as well as older people and people with “uncontrolled diabetes.” Severe asthma also raises your chances of dying from COVID-19.

“We need highly accurate data on which patients are most at risk in order to manage the pandemic and improve patient care,” said Liam Smeeth, professor of clinical epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, NHS doctor, and co-lead on the study, adding that the answers provided will be of vital importance around the world. “For example, it is very concerning to see that the higher risks faced by people from BME backgrounds are not attributable to identifiable underlying health conditions.”

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.