Obesity and COVID-19: what makes obese host so vulnerable?

Immun Ageing. 2021 Jan 4;18(1):1. doi: 10.1186/s12979-020-00212-x.


The disease (COVID-19) novel coronavirus pandemic has so far infected millions resulting in the death of over a million people as of Oct 2020. More than 90% of those infected with COVID-19 show mild or no symptoms but the rest of the infected cases show severe symptoms resulting in significant mortality. Age has emerged as a major factor to predict the severity of the disease and mortality rates are significantly higher in elderly patients. Besides, patients with underlying conditions like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and cancer have an increased risk of severe disease and death due to COVID-19 infection. Obesity has emerged as a novel risk factor for hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. Several independent studies have observed that people with obesity are at a greater risk of severe disease and death due to COVID-19. Here we review the published data related to obesity and overweight to assess the possible risk and outcome in Covid-19 patients based on their body weight. Besides, we explore how the obese host provides a unique microenvironment for disease pathogenesis, resulting in increased severity of the disease and poor outcome.

Keywords: Coronavirus; Covid-19; Inflammation; Innate and adaptive immunity; Insulin resistance; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review