The situation surrounding COVID-19 is only getting worse. Over the past 24 hours, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and U.S. President Donald Trump opted to ban most travel from Europe. Given these developments, all of us need to take steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and this is particularly critical for those with underlying health conditions who are most at risk of experiencing a severe illness if they contract the disease.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a list of medical conditions that increase the risk of severe manifestation of COVID-19. This list includes the following conditions: 

  • Blood disorders
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Compromised immune system
  • Pregnancy (current or recent)
  • Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes)
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Neurological conditions 
Microscopic picture of the Coronavirus

Image Source: Getty Images.

The race to find a vaccine or a treatment continues

So far, no vaccine or treatment has been approved by health regulators for the new coronavirus. And while a bit more than of half of all people with confirmed COVID-19 infections so far have already recovered, those who have died from it have mostly been older adults and those with underlying health conditions. Currently, biotech companies such as Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO -0.68%), Moderna (MRNA -1.91%), and Novavax (NVAX -2.92%) are trying to develop vaccines for COVID-19. And Gilead Sciences (GILD -0.35%) is the leader in the race to find a treatment for the rapidly spreading disease. The CDC recently said that Gilead's antiviral drug remdesivir is being used to treat some COVID-19 patients, but it isn't yet clear how effective it is.