On Tuesday, HT’s health editor Sanchita Sharma wrote, citing unreleased health ministry data that she sourced, that men account for 69% of all Covid-19 deaths in India, and people over the age of 50 for 76.7%.
The data isn’t surprising — the same trend has been seen all over the world. Older people who contract the coronavirus disease are much more likely to die. How a lot more likely? According to data from the United States Centers for Disease Keep an eye on and Prevention (CDC), those between the ages of 50 and 64 are 30 times much more likely to die from the disease than those between the ages of 18 and 29; those between the ages of 65 and 74, 90 times; those between the ages of 75 and 84, 220 times; and those over the age of 85, 630 times much more likely.
FATALITIES AMONG YOUNGER POPULATIONS
While only 8.2% of the people who succumbed to the disease in the United States are under the age of 54, nearly one in four of the deceased in India are under the age of 50. It isn’t lucid why, but the prevalence of comorbidities such as diabetes in younger people could be one reason; as could access to health care. Cleary, this area merits further investigation.
Similar data for India isn’t to be had, but there’s a very remarkable difference between the United States and India in relation to the mortality of younger people infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19. Only 8.2% of the people who succumbed to the disease in the United States (till August 26) were under the age of 54 (data wasn’t immediately to be had for those under the age of 50, even if mathematics indicates that it will have to be lower, making the difference with India even more remarkable).
The Indian data is till August 22.
There could also be a difference between India and the United States in relation to the gender of those who died from Covid-19. In the United States, till August 26, 54% of those who died from the disease were men. The corresponding proportion in India, till August 22, was once 69%. Again, there’s no apparent reason for this and it merits more research
It isn’t lucid why nearly one in four of the deceased in India (23.4%) were under the age of 50. And nearly 10% were under the age of 40. The prevalence of comorbidities such as diabetes in younger people could be one reason. As could access to health care. This is clearly an area that merits further investigation, even if a survey of scientific literature on Covid suggests that the trend seen in India is no different from that in other developing countries. On the flip side, some experts consider that India’s younger population can give an explanation for its low case fatality rate.
There could also be a difference between India and the United States in relation to the gender of those who died from Covid-19. In the United States, till August 26, data from CDC shows that 54% of those who died from the disease were men. The corresponding proportion in India (till August 22), was once 69%. A 15 percentage point difference is remarkable by any measure. Again, there’s no apparent reason for this — except for that men in India may have had more chance of being exposed to the virus than women. This, too, is an area that merits more research. As an aside, the health ministry’s coronavirus dashboard will have to be up to date in real-time with the ages and the gender of the deceased.
Recent studies in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Geneva in Switzerland, reported in Nature, claim that the Infection Fatality Rate (or proportion of those deceased to those presumably infected) is near-zero for those under the age of 50. The numbers cited in this column as regards to India are all case fatality rates — only a nationwide sero survey (blood test for antibodies) can shed light on the number of those infected, even if similar surveys, across a couple of states, do show that a remarkable proportion of the population has been infected (see back flap).
While on the matter of fatality rates, all countries have managed to progressively minimize them as health care workers figure out more therapies that work.
On Wednesday, an analysis of seven studies that was once published in JAMA, the Publication of the American Medical Organization, confirmed that steroids help minimize fatalities by a third when administered to severely ill Covid-19 patients. The analysis covered steroids such as dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, and methylprednisolone. A preceding installment of this column reported probably the most studies covered by a June analysis (a UK one that showed dexamethasone to be effective in the remedy of Covid-19). As that column pointed out, steroids are inexpensive and widely to be had in India.