Coronavirus

Why Your Grandparents Should Be the Most Worried About Coronavirus

The coronavirus is life-threatening. But it’s way deadlier for the elderly than the young.
February 21, 2020, 8:17am
Elderly Most At Risk From The Coronavirus

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is the world’s latest collective nightmare. The number of confirmed cases mushrooming around the world show us just how insidiously contagions spread.

In a report released by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention which documents 44,672 confirmed coronavirus cases in mainland China, the fatality rate of the coronavirus stood at 2.3 percent, with 1,023 deaths as of February 11.

However, like most other diseases, the risks presented are distributed unevenly across different types of patients. We know the coronavirus is life-threatening, but it turns out that it’s way deadlier for the elderly than the young.

coronavirus risk for elderly

Graph by Statista.

The older population suffers a disproportionate risk of dying from the coronavirus, as the fatality rate increases exponentially with age. The fatality rate of the disease along the age spectrum ranges from 0.2 percent for people aged 10 to 19, to 14.8 percent for people above 80 years old.

Even without knowing these statistics, millenials and zoomers in China are already aggressively bugging their parents and grandparents to take precautions against the coronavirus, in innovative ways.

It’s hardly surprising that the elderly population is more likely to succumb to infections. According to the World Health Organisation, the seasonal flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 people globally every year. In industrialised countries, most of these deaths involve people above 65 years old.

Why do the elderly have it worse during such virus attacks? For a start, they tend to have chronic health conditions which reduce their bodies’ ability to handle infections. In addition, coronaviruses afflict the body differently from the flu. While the flu itself is responsible for directly attacking the human body, the coronavirus wreaks havoc by stimulating the immune system to respond with symptoms. For older people with weaker immune systems, these symptoms are amplified.

The same report shows that more men have died from the coronavirus than women. The male fatality rate is 2.8 percent, while the female fatality rate is 1.7 percent.

Statistics also show the number of mild coronavirus cases far outstrip severe and critical ones. Among 44,672 confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China, 80.9 percent were suffering mild symptoms while 13.8 percent experienced severe symptoms. Meanwhile, 4.7 percent of the cases were classified as “critical.”

most coronavirus cases mild

Graph by Statista.

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