Middle-aged people, and not just the elderly, have a dramatically higher risk of dying or developing serious illness from coronavirus ( COVID-19 ), says a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. Researchers from Britain analysed more than 3,600 confirmed COVID-19 cases as well as data from hundreds of passengers repatriated from Wuhan.
They found that age was a key determining factor in serious infections, with nearly one in five over-80s requiring hospitalisation, compared to around 1% among people under 30.
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Taking into account estimates of the number of cases that may not have been clinically confirmed — that is, mild or asymptomatic infections — the data showed the hospitalisation rate of patients in their fifties was 8.2%.
It estimated that the mortality rate from confirmed cases in China was 1.38%.
The Lancet study showed that 18.4% of patients in their 80s were hospitalised in China. This compared to 4.3% for 40 to 49-year-olds and roughly 1% for people in their 20s.
“There might be outlying cases that get a lot of media attention, but our analysis very clearly shows that at aged 50 and over, hospitalisation is much more likely than in those under 50, and a greater proportion of cases are likely to be fatal,” said Azra Ghani, a co-author of the study.