I’ve been asked by three people today why the deaths in Italy are so high compared to other countries outside of China. I felt this was a good question to research. Today, March 12, 2020, Italy has 15,113 total cases with 2,651 being new cases, and the total deaths are at 1016.
Compare that to China with 80,797 total cases, 14,763 active cases, 4,257 serious cases, a total of 3170 deaths, but only 4 new deaths. The source of my statistics is https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/. If the news is to be believed, China reported only 4 new deaths. Is that a typo? I don’t know, but it sounds encouraging if it is true.
At the same time, the United States has 1716 total cases, with 415 of the new, 857 actives, and 41 deaths. Most of the deaths in the U.S. have come from a nursing home with elderly patients.
We know the coronavirus started in Wuhan, China and most of the cases and deaths have occurred in that area. The United States has seen outbreaks in most of the 50 states. Yet, the total numbers are still low. Maybe the United States is still on the front edge of infections.
Yet, Italy has numbers that don’t conform to any other statistical norm around the world. The probable reason is Italy’s demographics. Italy has the oldest population in Europe. Twenty-three percent of Italy’s population is 65 years of age and older. The median age in Italy is 47.3. The coronavirus has a high death rate for seniors with ill health.
The median age in the United States is 38.3. Most of Italy’s deaths have been reported in people in their 80s and 90s. Any country with an aging population is going to have higher death rates from the coronavirus compared to countries with younger median age.
Growing old is easier. It happens every day. Growing old and maintaining good health is difficult. Cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and more eat away at their immune systems. It requires more health attention, even to the point of assisted or nursing care.
Assisted living and nursing care centers have many people with challenged immune systems. An outbreak of a virulent disease like the coronavirus is easy to occur when the patients are not protected from each other, their caregivers and visitors. We have seen this scenario over the past week or so in Washington state. It is a perfect storm to infect everyone with severe health problems.
The media reports numbers but we don’t see the demographics on those numbers being reported. It is interesting that young children seem almost immune to the coronavirus compared to their parents and grandparents.
The total numbers are probably not reported accurately. How are the people tested? What test is used? How accurate is that test? If people have mild symptoms from the coronavirus, they probably were not tested, and their numbers were not included in the totals.
Italy is a worst-case scenario developing before our eyes. An older population with many requiring healthcare in an area without adequate quarantine led to an infectious opportunity to new cases and resultant higher death rates.
The quarantines in China appear to have worked well. In the Wuhan area, the fatality rate is 5.8%. However, in the rest of China, the fatality rate from the coronavirus is 0.7%. The United States has taken many measures this past week to eliminate large gatherings of people. With a disease that is spread without symptoms, this may be an effective measure to reduce exposure, especially to the elderly.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life – Red O’Laughlin