Barbara Nicholl, Ph.D.

Multimorbidity and polypharmacy puts individuals at a higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19, a new study has found. Non-white ethnicity was also linked to testing positive.

Investigators used UK Biobank data — now linked to COVID-19 test results —from more than 420,000 adults aged 37 to 73 years. The risk was particularly high in people with two or more cardiometabolic health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. These study participants were 77% more likely to test positive for the disease than their peers without these conditions. And people of people of color were three times as likely to test positive as the white cohort.

Overall, people with multimorbidity who had the highest risk were those from socioeconomically deprived areas, of non-white ethnicity, considered severely obese, and who had reduced renal function, reported study lead Barbara Nicholl, Ph.D., from the University of Glasgow.

“Multimorbidity and polypharmacy are global healthcare challenges in their own right,” Nicholl said. “These results will be important for public health and clinical decisions in the future as we continue to manage the health of those at greatest risk of a severe COVID-19 infection during this pandemic.”

The study was published in PLoS One.