“Part of me feels there is a need to get away from raw age in the risk [sorting] tools,” says Dr Matthew Knight, consultant respiratory physician at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust. “My dad is 75 and goes for an eight to 10-mile walk with the dogs every morning – he’s probably fitter than I am. His biological age isn’t going to be 75.”
Instead, some in the medical world think it might be more helpful to think of your ‘Covid age’ – how various factors like age, weight, kidney function and diabetes coalesce to determine your vulnerability to the virus. One group of data scientists in the US has even created an online calculator in which users input various pieces of health data to find out their precise Covid risk score.
Knight thinks Covid age could be a “useful concept”, although he notes that doctors are not yet using it to assess patients. He says respiratory doctors have long used the concept of lung age to assess a patient’s respiratory strength, in which patients are asked to blow as hard as they can on a spirometer. “If you’re 28, but you blow an average that is more appropriate for a 34-year-old, then your lung age is 34,” he explains.
So, what are the factors that contribute to your Covid age?