I just stumbled upon some data about what age groups are most at risk to die from COVID-19. We’ve all heard that the elderly are most at risk and that young people need to do their part by not spreading it. Until today, I hadn’t yet seen any data that shows the fatality rates by age. I think seeing such data would help us to make more sense of this virus. Especially since blanket percentages that say 3.0% of all who get it die isn’t really helpful. This is a virus that kills the elderly way way more than younger groups of people.
Before I share this data, I should add that this data is as of February 11, 2020 based on the 44,415 confirmed cases in China. China is now up to 80, 881 total cases while the total amount of cases world-wide is up to 182, 595 cases and 7,170 deaths. That means this virus kills 3.92% of all who get this virus. That’s way a much higher percentage than the flu, which kills 0.1% of victims. But, as I said above, this virus is skewed way more to killing the elderly than the non-elderly.
With that out of the way, here is the breakdown of fatality rates:
0-9 years of age (0.0%)
10-19 years of age (0.2%)
20-29 years of age (0.2%)
30-39 years of age (0.2%)
40-49 years of age (0.4%)
50-59 years of age (1.3%)
60-69 years of age (3.6%)
70-79 years of age (8.0%)
80+ years of age (14.8%)
Roughly 5% of cases are critical cases, 14% are severe, and 81% are mild.
In this data, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that If you are below 50 years of age, odds of death are really low. This isn’t a virus that kills the young. That’s good and offers a lot of hope.
The bad news is that once you get beyond 40 and into the 50s and beyond, the odds of death start to spike up significantly. First off, even though people in their 40s are only at a 0.4% chance of dying, odds from the 30s to 40s doubles from 0.2% to 0.4% (2 times more likely to die). Then, from the 40s to 50s, the chances of dying more than triples (3.25 times more likely to die) with 1.3% odds of death in the age range of 50-59 years of age. Then, there’s a leap from 1.3% odds to 3.6% odds from the 50s to 60s (2.77 times more likely).
The leap from the 60s to the 70s goes from 3.6% to 8.0% (2.22222 times more likely to die) while the leap from the 70s to 80s and beyond goes from 8.0% to 14.8% (1.85 times more likely to die).
Excluding children under 10, people who are 80+ years of age are 74 times more likely to die than people under the age of 40. 14.8 divided by 0.2 = 74. People who are in their 70s are 40 times more likely to die than people under the age of 40 and people in their 60s are 18 times more likely to die than people under the age of 40. As for people in their 50s, they are 6.5 times more likely to die than people under the age of 40. And then as I said above, people in their 40s are twice as likely to die as people under the age of 40, but they’re still at really low 0.4% odds of death.
So, what this means is that if you are in the camp of under 40 and even under 50, though I do want to stress that 40s and under 40 are not the same percentages, your primary job is to not infect other people so as to not infect those who are in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. If you’re in your 60s, you're sort of in a weird in between space where you are a lot more likely to die than those 50 and younger, yet you’re not nearly as likely to die as those in their 70s and especially 80s and beyond. So, you’re not among the most vulnerable, but you’re also not the least vulnerable, either.
Obviously, if you’re in your 70s or beyond, especially 80s and beyond, this is a virus to really worry about in terms of the odds of it taking you out. People in these age windows really need to be careful and if you know people in these age windows, please do everything you can to keep them safe and encourage them to be safe.
So, once again as a recap, yes it is true that this virus disproportionately affects the elderly. If people say it doesn’t or make it come off like all people regardless of age are equally likely to die, those are scare tactics and not helpful information. We need to know who is most at risk so as to have the best strategy of how to attack the virus and best combat it. I think a lot of people in their 50s and under are freaked out of themselves dying when they shouldn’t be.
That said, what we should be worried about is having a huge spike in elderly people in those most vulnerable demographics needing hospitalization all at once without us having the resources to save all of them. That’s what flattening the curve is all about. We just don’t want sudden spikes. That’s the goal and where those of us that are younger can contribute. I should also add quickly that you can pass on the virus before feeling any symptoms, hence the need for social distancing.
But, once again, the numbers do not indicate that this is the plague of all plagues to wipe out humanity. They just don’t. I feel there’s a lot of that kind of fear going on and that needs to stop. It makes people panic more and makes us lose focus on what our actual goal should be. Keep calm, flatten the curve, and hopefully carry on.