Most deaths due to Covid-19 occur in 50-72 age group, analysis shows

A DH analysis of 9,534 senior citizen deaths in Karnataka has found that there were fewer deaths in 80+ age group
Last Updated 28 November 2020, 11:02 IST

More people in their fifties and sixties have died from Covid-19 than much older individuals who caught the virus, according to a DH analysis of 9,534 senior citizen deaths in Karnataka, with co-morbidities and late diagnosis emerging as the two major factors behind the deaths.

The analysis considered all Covid-19 fatalities in the state of people aged 50 and above.

The worst-hit age group turns out to be between 50-72 (65, 60, 70, 55, 75, 50, 58, 68, 62 and 72), with people aged 65 having suffered the highest number of Covid-19 fatalities (793) in the state.

Next are people aged 60 (670 deaths), people aged 70 (667) and people aged 55 (484 deaths). The data shows a clear link between fatality rate and the presence of co-morbidities, with a significant chunk of people in the above ages having had three or more co-morbidities.

On top of these serious conditions, many of the deceased had somehow slipped through surveillance measures or had failed to get themselves tested early.

Dr Thrilok Chandra, head of the Critical Care Support Unit (CCSU) which has handled over 2 lakh critical Covid-19 cases, said the primary cause of death is almost always late diagnosis.

“We have seen multi-organ dysfunction in all cases which arrived late for treatment - the kidney is compromised, the lung is compromised or the heart is. The circulatory system is involved and Covid-19 can cause hypercoagulation which is a force multiplier,” he said.

The highest number of people who died on the same day of diagnosis in Karnataka were 166 people who were aged 65. The next highest number were 154 who were aged 60. The third highest group was 141 people who were aged 70. Tellingly, 39.2% of these people also had three or more co-morbidities. No other age group comes close to these high numbers of late diagnosis.

However, the relatively lower death rates of the very elderly is surprising. In contrast to 22.85% of people in their 50s who died after catching Covid-19, only 8.79% of people in their 80s died. Among the 60 people aged over 100 who contracted the disease, only three people (or 5%) died.

To be fair, mortality rates among people in their 60s and 70s are lower (at 3.82% and 6.28% respectively) because larger numbers of people in this group (1.27 lakhs) were infected than older senior citizens, 80 and above, (12,360).

Dr Anoop Amarnath, Covid Task Force member, said an early guideline, calling on senior citizens aged 65 years not to leave their homes likely saved many lives.

“At the same time, the condition of immunosenescence, the gradual weakening of immune system with age, could have saved the lives of some of the most aged of senior citizens.” He said cytokine storms of the body’s immune system were responsible for some deaths.

(Published 26 November 2020, 20:11 IST)

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