88% of Covid-19 fatalities, 40% of cases in 45+ age group: Govt data
Nearly nine in every 10 people (88%) who lost their lives due to Covid-19 in India till December 16 were above the age of 45, even only four out of every 10 (40%) reported infections fell in that age group, according to yet-to-be-released case and mortality data from Union ministry of health and family welfare accessed by HT.
People under the age of 45 years accounted for 60% of all Covid-19 infections in the country, but constituted only 12% of total deaths, the data showed. The findings from India reflect global trends that show the disease is disproportionately fatal for those who are older, even though it infects people in the younger age groups far more.
The data also showed that men are a lot more likely to be infected as well as die from the disease, accounting for 63% of all cases and 70% of all deaths.
The numbers suggest that more than half (52%) of the people infected in India so far were between the ages of 18 and 44 years, while a majority (55%) of those who died of the viral disease were 60 years and older. People in between the ages of 45 years and 60 constitute 33% of all fatalities, while about 10% of the deaths were among people between the ages of 26 and 44. Those between 18 and 25 years, and those below 17 years of age, account for only 1% of fatalities each.
Also in line with the global pattern, at least 70% of the deaths were in patients with at least one more underlying medical condition such as hypertension, diabetes, or cardiac, liver or kidney disease.
“The pattern visible in India is not really different from the data that is coming from other countries; and it says 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 severe form of the disease. The trend largely has remained the same over the months with slight variation in numbers,” said a health ministry official familiar with the findings who did not want to be identified.
India’s cumulative case fatality rate (CFR), which is the number of patients dead among those having tested positive, currently stands at 1.45%, which is far lower than the global CFR of 2.26%.
Immunology experts say that because of the high transmissibility of the Sars-Cov-2 virus that causes Covid-19, the infections could rise in future but with less severity.
“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 any infections better as compared to say Europeans or Americans. 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, immunology and immunogenetics expert, who was formerly associated with New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Doctors also attribute the low death rate to standardised treatment protocol that hospitals had started following in hospitals across the country based of Union health ministry guidelines.
The technical wing of Union health ministry prepared 30 training modules on various topics -- such as clinical management, ventilator support, infection prevention and control, and quarantine management -- to train its frontline health care workers.
“We know a lot more about the disease now then we knew in the beginning of the outbreak, and government guidelines have also been upgraded from time to time based on the latest evidence emerging from across the globe that also helped in knowing what worked better. These protocols are being followed across the board, and have managed to save more lives,” said Dr Vikas Maurya, director, department of pulmonology and sleep disorders, Fortis Healthcare.