62.5% hospitalised Covid patients under age of 40: Govt data

Six in every 10 people (62.5%) hospitalised on account of the coronavirus disease in India are below the age of 40, according to an analysis of around 200,000 Covid-19 hospitalisations in India by the Union health ministry’s Integrated Surveillance Programme.
The findings is in line with both Indian and international trends where many of the infected are relatively younger people, even though many of the dead are older.(Yogendra Kumar/HT photo)
The findings is in line with both Indian and international trends where many of the infected are relatively younger people, even though many of the dead are older.(Yogendra Kumar/HT photo)
Updated on Oct 06, 2020 04:24 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Six in every 10 people (62.5%) hospitalised on account of the coronavirus disease in India are below the age of 40, according to an analysis of around 200,000 Covid-19 hospitalisations in India by the Union health ministry’s Integrated Surveillance Programme.

The findings is in line with both Indian and international trends where many of the infected are relatively younger people, even though many of the dead are older.

According to an analysis of almost 100,000 deaths last week -- the death toll in India as of Monday night was 103622 -- 53% are over the age of 60 and 88% above the age of 45.

This is the first time an age distribution of those hospitalised on account of the viral pandemic has been accessed.

Only 9% of those hospitalised were older than 60 years, according to the data; 25.84% were in the 21-30 age group; and 22.48% between the ages of 31 and 40. The data shows that nearly one in two people hospitalised on account of Covid-19 was in the prime of life.

The findings about the age-wise distribution of infections and deaths in India appear to be in line with what scientists have observed globally — it disproportionally infects younger people, but the deaths have a disproportionate number of the old.

 

“The pattern that is visible in India is not really different from the data that is coming from experts globally, that the infection is relatively less common among children, and mostly affects the adult population. Elderly people, and those with comorbidities, are at a higher risk of developing a severe form of the disease,” said a health ministry official who asked not to be named.

At least 70% of the deaths have been seen in patients with underlying medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiac, liver or kidney disease.

“Our data from various hospitals shows that most of the patients who have succumbed had comorbidities, with many suffering from at least two chronic health conditions. This category of people needs to be extra careful; this is a crucial part of government’s community surveillance efforts, especially those living in containment zones,” the official added.

His reference is to the government’s effort to keep an eye on vulnerable population, including elderly, people with comorbidities and pregnant women, that is at high risk of contracting the disease. In all, close to 4 million people currently are under community surveillance, which includes adults with comorbidities in containment zones.

Experts say that because of the high transmissibility of the Sars-Cov-2 virus that causes Covid-19, the number of infections could rise, albeit with fewer severe cases and deaths.

Also Read | Covid-19 vaccine: Finger-pointing will not save a single life, says WHO

“Since it is a highly contagious virus, everyone runs the risk of exposure. However, we are seeing lower severity of the infection, because of which our death rate is also very low, and that could be attributed to the fact that our immunity levels are modulated to fight infections better as compared to say Europeans or Americans. The young population getting infected could also be movement-related as we have managed to quarantine to a large extent, our vulnerable population,” said Dr NK Mehra, an immunology and immunogenetics expert, who was former head, transplant, immunology and immunogenetics department, New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

“The changing weather, however, needs extra caution as respiratory illnesses are known to get worse with the drop in temperature,” he added.

Around 4.4% of those hospitalised were children below the age of 10, suggesting that children are also being infected in some numbers.

Child specialists say that while infections among children are not uncommon, they are usually mild.

“The severity of the disease is obviously low in children but it is not that there are absolutely no cases of severe Covid-19 illness reported in children. We have got Covid-19 positive children with neurological symptoms of serious nature. The number, however, is very small,” said Dr Sheffali Gulati, chief, child neurology division, AIIMS, Delhi.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Rhythma Kaul works as an assistant editor at Hindustan Times. She covers health and related topics, including ministry of health and family welfare, government of India.

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