SINGAPORE – March 6, 2020
We are several months into the epidemic and are now able to get fairly reliable data on COVID-19 based on China’s reporting. A team of international experts from WHO were dispatched to study the disease and what they learnt is bad news for seniors. COVID-19 seems to be much worse for the elderly and their risks increases significantly above 60 years old. See the WHO “Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission
on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), 16-24 February 2020″.
- If you are 60 and above, you have the highest risk for catching the disease and death compared to any other age grouping. Those age 60+ make up 16.9% of the population and 31.2% of those infected – meaning that if you are 60+, you have a higher risk of being infected. The fatality rate also rises steadily with age – 60-69 is 3.6%, 70-79 is 8.0% and 80+ is 14.8%. The overall fatality ratio to-date that is widely reported is between 2-4%.
- The likely reason why the disease is most severe among the elderly is that most older patients do have underlying conditions. The fatality rate is highest for cardiovascular disease at 13.2%, uncontrolled diabetes at 9.2% and 8.4% for those with hypertension. If you have no pre-existing conditions, the fatality rate is 0.9%.
- There appears to be a difference in fatality rate between men and women. The reason the rate for men is higher at 2.8% versus 1.7% for women is likely due to the fact that in China, there are more male smokers than female. Since COVID-19 is a disease that attacks the respiratory system, smokers are more likely to be at greater risks than non smokers.
- We cannot find age-related statistics on the severity and treatment – but it is reported that 5% diagnosed needs artificial respiration and 15% requires concentrated oxygen. For severe and critical patients that recovers, it takes about 3-6 weeks. Based on http://www.worldometers.info tracking, 16% of active cases are classified as “serious or critical”.
The good news is that for most people, COVID-19 may just be a mild-to-moderate flu-like experience – based on http://www.worldometers.info – based on all closed cases, 94% have recovered and/or discharged.
For us seniors out there, given that the risks are many times greater for contracting and dying from COVID-19, it makes perfect sense that we should be EXTRA CAREFUL to take all necessary measures to prevent exposure.