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Age break-up of Covid-19 toll

Around 73% of virus deaths among patients with underlying health disorders: Govt
A medic collects a sample for swab test at KEM Hospital in Mumbai on Tuesday

G.S. Mudur   |   New Delhi   |   Published 21.05.20, 10:30 PM

More than 100 coronavirus disease patients 30 years or younger have died in India, but over half of the country’s Covid-19 deaths have occurred among patients 60 years or older, the Union health ministry said on Thursday, releasing updated figures.

The ministry said 0.5 per cent of Covid-19 deaths have occurred in patients below 15 years, 2.5 per cent in the 15-30 age group, 11.4 per cent in the 30-45 age group, 35.1 per cent in the 45-60 age group and 50.5 per cent among patients 60 years or older.

India detected 5,609 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, increasing the number of confirmed cases to 112,359, of whom 45,300 patients have recovered and 3,435 have died. More than 63,600 patients are under observation or treatment in hospitals across the country.

Around 73 per cent (2,508) of the Covid-19 deaths have occurred among patients with underlying health disorders, the ministry said. Men account for 64 per cent (2,198) of deaths.

The proportions of Covid-19 deaths among children and among patients 45 years or younger in India appear significantly higher than those documented among large cohorts of patients in the US or China.

A Chinese study of 1,023 Covid-19 deaths had noted 6.3 per cent deaths among patients 49 years or younger, around twice lower than India’s figure of 14.4 per cent among patients below 45 years.

A New York City analysis updated on May 13 of 15,230 deaths had recorded 0.06 per cent deaths among patients 17 years or younger, or 50-fold lower than India’s 3 per cent deaths in children below 15 years.

But experts say the age-distribution of cases, the presence of any underlying health disorders, or even nutrition might help explain such differences.

“Underlying health disorders such as obesity or high blood pressure or diabetes could influence the death rates,” said Shikha Panwar, a critical care medicine specialist at Sarvodaya Hospital, Faridabad (Haryana). “What proportion of patients below 45 has such comorbid conditions?”

“Understanding the difference in death rates among children will also need a deeper analysis,” she said.

Some studies have suggested that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of severe Covid-19 disease. “Vitamin D deficiency or other poor forms of poor nutrition can influence the outcome of the viral infection,” Panwar said.

The health ministry said the Covid-19 case fatality rate — the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases — in India is 3.06 per cent, which is less than the global case fatality rate of 6.65 per cent. “This brings into focus our efforts towards timely case identification and proper clinical management of the cases,” the ministry said in a media release.

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