Severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus (SARS-Cov-2 virus) is a growing pandemic that is currently high on the public health agenda. SA born Epidemiologist and national science award winner, Prof Refilwe Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Johannesburg, is working with a leading team of scientists in South Africa and abroad to understand the epidemiologic heterogeneity of COVID-19 in order to guide equitable responses for an ageing population, among others. As the COVID-19 caseload and death toll increase, its impacts are becoming worsened, threatening to reverse all the public health gains made in recent years. There are differences in the prevalence of underlying chronic conditions across population groups. COVID-19 severity and mortalities have been strongly associated with hypertension and diabetes. The ageing population has the highest prevalence of multi-morbidity and therefore is at higher risk of COVID-19 adverse outcomes. Prof Phaswana-Mafuya will share her insights on differential impacts of COVID-19 severity and mortality in order to guide control measures, appropriate resource allocation and ultimately attainment of an equitable response.