Studies Confirm Risks to Older People from Coronavirus

COVid19 outbreak map

Key covid-19 outbreak map

This statement is adapted from an article originally published on HelpAge International’s news page on March 2, 2020.

More than 80 percent of those who have died from coronavirus – or COVID-19 – in China have been aged over 60, according to the National Health Commission of China, identifying older people as the age group most at risk from the disease.

Another study of more than 44,000 patients carried out by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has also confirmed that patients older than 80 who become infected with coronavirus have a 15 percent chance of dying. This is far higher than the general estimated mortality rate of 2.3 percent. 

As older people are more like to have underlying health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, and aging immune systems, the death rate from coronavirus, grows drastically with age:

– 80+: 14.8%
– 70-79: 8.0%
– 60-69: 3.6%
– 50-59: 1.3%
– 40-49: 0.4%

“These figures show how important it is that older people are reached with accurate and clear information on how to try and protect themselves from infection and what they should do if they feel unwell,” said Justin Derbyshire, Chief Executive at HelpAge International.

The rapid escalation of Covid-19 in northern Italy highlights a potentially significant challenge for the world’s most rapidly aging countries. Italy is Europe’s oldest country and all of those who have died of coronavirus so far have been older people or those with existing health conditions.      

“In situations where communities are shutting down to prevent the virus from spreading – as has happened in parts of northern Italy, Wuhan Province, and Iran – older people can be particularly vulnerable. It will be easy for them to become isolated and to struggle to take care of themselves without the usual support they might rely on. Steps should be taken to ensure their wellbeing.”

Anyone seeking further information on how to protect themselves from contagion should refer to the advice provided by the WHO.

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