Severity and Health Effects


  • Many people with COVID-19 have mild illness. However, anyone can become severely ill from this virus.
  • Risk for severe illness increases with age. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among people 85 or older.
  • People of any age who have underlying medical conditions may have a greater risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
  • Ask your health care provider if you have greater risk of getting sicker from COVID-19.

Physical Health Effects

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 can affect people in different ways. Some can get very sick, while most have mild or moderate symptoms and get better without going to a clinic or into a hospital. Some have no symptoms. Some people die.
  • Some people are in the hospital for weeks. Some may need to be put on a ventilator in order to breathe and survive. Some may need to be put on a heart-lung bypass machine. The virus that causes COVID-19 has been linked to increased:
    • Blood clotting
    • Strokes
    • Heart damage
    • Other organ damage
  • The long-term health effects are still unknown but there may be permanent damage to the heart, lungs, or other organs. This is more likely in those who had more severe illness but may also be possible even in those who had mild illness.
  • New evidence shows that COVID-19 can also lead to health problems in children. More research is needed to better understand how the virus may cause short and long-term illness.