“It’s a must to prioritize older adults with chronic conditions in our COVID-19 vaccination and treatment planning, particularly as highly transmissible variants have become dominant in many places,” says Jonathan H. Watanabe, UCI professor of clinical pharmacy and corresponding author on the new study. Kevin Walsh / Kevin Walsh Photography

Age increases the likelihood of hospitalization and poor outcomes for COVID-19 patients with such preexisting conditions as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, kidney disease and diabetes, according to a recent study led by UCI researchers. An analysis of the UC COVID Research Data Set – which contains SARS-CoV-2 testing results and COVID-19 treatment information collected from University of California medical centers in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco – found that adults between 65 and 74 were much more likely to be hospitalized than younger patients with the same conditions and that those 75 and older were the most likely of all to be hospitalized. “Our findings demonstrate that we need to boost our clinical, public health and health policy efforts among older high-risk adults, including more emphasis on safety measures and increased access to COVID-19 vaccinations for this vulnerable population,” said Jonathan H. Watanabe, Pharm.D., Ph.D., UCI professor of clinical pharmacy and corresponding author. The study results have been published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Jimmy Kwon, a UCI graduate student in statistics, and Dr. Sanjay R. Mehta, an associate clinical professor of medicine at UC San Diego, also participated in the work.