It is being reported that patients who have NAFLD are about twice as likely to have a more serious illness than patients who are obese but do not have NAFLD if infected with COVID.
NAFLD is more likely to result in serious symptoms than obesity without NAFLD. This distinction is important for proper risk stratification.
I know that when you read about the risk factors associated with COVID they rarely mention liver disease. There have been some early reports that essentially say that liver risk is limited. In the early turmoil of a crisis like the COVID pandemic a lot of information is fragmented and based on very small samples.
A study has just been uploaded to a pre-release server which takes a much more effective look at the question of whether NAFLD should be considered to be a risk factor for hospitalization should you become infected.
To be clear, there are preexisting conditions that have a higher risk of fatality with this virus, but when we consider how many people have NAFLD, it is important to understand the consequences of that.
Perspectum Ltd., is the maker of the LiverMultiscan and is the key MRI provider for the UK Biobank. They examined the results of 502,506 people scanned for the Biobank and found 42,146 who showed signs of liver disease. This group was compared to the patients tested positive for the virus and their symptoms were then compared to similar obese patients without NAFLD.
The risk of having more severe symptoms for the NAFLD patients was about double that of patients who were just obese. While this analysis awaits more formal review, it is fair warning that we should be paying attention to NAFLD/NASH in the context of managing COVID.
This matters because we don't routinely diagnose NAFLD so as we try to devise societal management strategies that provide care to those at greater risk. we can't assess it accurately when our information is poor to wrong.