More than 20% of the world population have underlying health conditions and may experience severe COVID-19 symptoms if they contract the novel coronavirus, a recent study showed.

According to the study published by The Lancet medical journal, an estimate of 1.7 billion people or 22% of the global population “have at least one underlying condition that puts them at increased risk of severe COVID-19 if infected.”

“Estimates of the number of individuals at increased risk were most sensitive to the prevalence of chronic kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory disease,” it added.

The researchers said the study focused on underlying health conditions for considering the number of individuals that might need to be shielded or vaccinated as the global pandemic unfolds.

After emerging last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the virus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions.

There are more than 8.05 million confirmed infections globally and an excess of 437,200 deaths, with over 3.88 million recoveries.

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