62% cases but only 13% fatalities among those below 45 years
The findings about the age-wise distribution of infections and deaths in India appear to be in line with what scientists have observed about the global trends of the disease — it disproportionally infects younger people, while it severely affects those who are older.Updated: Aug 11, 2020 05:25 IST
Around six out of every 10 (62%) infections of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in India have been among people below the age of 45 years, but Covid-19 patients above 45 years of age account for nearly nine in 10 (87%) of all deaths, shows government data.
The findings about the age-wise distribution of infections and deaths in India appear to be in line with what scientists have observed about the global trends of the disease — it disproportionally infects younger people, while it severely affects those who are older. Officials, however, have not released new data about the break-up of cases based on gender and comorbidities.
The unreleased case data from the Union ministry of health and family welfare, accessed by HT, also shows that more than half (54%) of the people infected in India are between the ages of 18 and 44, while half (50%) the people who succumbed to the disease are above 60 years of age.
The data for age-wise breakup of cases pertains to the time when India had 1.7 million cases (July 31, according to HT’s dashboard), officials from the health department who did not wish to be identified said.
“The India data also corroborates what experts have found globally that the disease is relatively less common among children, and mostly affects the adult population. Older adults, and those with comorbidities, are at a higher risk of developing severe form of the disease, hence, need to be more careful,” said a health ministry official, who asked not to be named.
People between the ages of 26 and 44 years are the single largest group of people who have been infected with Sars-CoV-2 (40%). This is followed by people between 45 years and 60 years (26%). Meanwhile, with 8% infected, the under-17 age group has the least proportion of infections.
“What we need to understand about this virus is that it is highly contagious and everyone is equally exposed. In children, however, in terms of overall numbers the infections are less. It may seem like those who are more likely to be mobile are the ones most affected but we are seeing that even if one family member is infected and brings the infection home then all family members are likely to contract the infection. That’s the level of transmissibility we see,” said Sanjay Rai, professor, community medicine department, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.
The government has not released data on breakup of cases based on age since April. But since then, they have released data on deaths split by age groups at least thrice — on May 1, June 2, and July 10 , during the health ministry’s press briefings on Covid-19 .
Most deaths — 50% — are in the age group of 60 years and above, followed by 37% deaths among people between 45 years and 60 years in age. About 11% of people who succumbed to the disease were between 26 and 44 years of age and 1% each belonged to the 18 - 25 years and below 17 years cohorts. This set of data was released by the government on August 4.
The latest mortality data also shows 68% of the Covid-19 deaths in the country are among men and 32% are of women.
“It is a new virus and there is lots that is not known about the disease; however, the evidence before us currently suggests that having co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension and also obesity is a key factor in determining whether a positive case will develop serious illness or not. It also contributes to overall deaths due to Covid-19, with a large number of those dying due to Covid-19 having found to be suffering from at least one of these health conditions. Comorbidities interfere in the recovery process,” said Dr Srikant Sharma, consultant, medicine department, Moolchand hospital.