Risk Factors for Coronavirus Mortality

09 June, 2020
Mortality rates in regards to coronavirus are different for different groups within our population. The most important risk factors that experts have discovered so far have been advanced age and having a weakened immune system.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that has produced the pandemic that’s shaking the world right now. This is a new virus, which means scientists are still investigating all of its properties and characteristics. For example, two important factors to consider are the risk factors and mortality rate of coronavirus.

In reality, coronavirus actually refers to a family of viruses. The particular coronavirus that caused our current situation appeared for the first time in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Right now, the mortality rate for those over the age of 80 who become infected is approximately 18%.

However, experts are constantly recalculating this number as new cases continue to appear and the pandemic evolves. Until this situation is finally over, it’s impossible to affirm any aspect of this virus’s behavior with exactitude.

Just the same, thanks to studies that are taking place right now, we can decipher some data along the way. In today’s article, based on this data, we’ll explain what some of the risk factors are when it comes to the coronavirus mortality rate, according to scientists.

The coronavirus mortality rate: what the numbers reveal

As we’ve already mentioned, the coronavirus mortality rate, as well as the number of cases and other parameters, is currently based on statistics and data that experts gather day by day.

According to the latest statistics, we can classify the mortality rate according to three age groups. This is because a person’s age seems to be the most important factor. When we look at the virus from this viewpoint, we can see that 95 % of deaths have occurred in individuals over the age of 65.

Interestingly, the death rate of coronavirus among children is practically null. In fact, in people under the age of 60, the numbers don’t even reach 1% of those infected. Other statistics that scientists have gathered from Spain, from example, are the following:

  • In people between the ages of 70 and 79, the mortality rate is around 5 %.
  • The age range where we find the most number of confirmed cases of infection is between 50 and 60 years of age. However, these individuals are less likely to die from coronavirus.
An elderly woman coughing into her arm.
Age is one of the most relevant risk factors when it comes to suffering serious forms of coronavirus

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What factors define the mortality rate of coronavirus?

According to research published in The Lancetage is the most determinant factor when it comes to coronavirus infection. Specifically, old age. As we’ve already mentioned, those who are most at risk due to their age are persons over 80.

At the same time, it seems that death rates are higher in men than in women. Another factor that defines the coronavirus mortality rate is the condition of a person’s immune system. In other words, people with a weakened immune system are much more prone to developing complications from coronavirus.

Within this group we find people living with illnesses like HIV and cancer. But we need to keep in mind that more common illnesses, like diabetes and high blood pressure, are also risk factors.

According to scientists, having a high SOFA (sequential organ failure assessment score) is another determining factor. This scale is used in intensive care units (ICU) to evaluate patients.

There are other medical parameters that experts are considering as risk factors. For example, a low lymphocyte count, alterations in coagulation tests, or increases in certain molecules that intervene in inflammatory processes.

Patients in intensive therapy are at greater risk of mortality from coronavirus than those in common hospital rooms.

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Things to keep in mind

Even though experts are identifying risk factors for coronavirus mortality rates, we still can’t make any sure conclusions. The studies that have been done so far have involved a small sampling of people. Therefore, we can’t consider the results to be completely valid.

Just the same, we need to be clear that most deaths are occurring among the elderly. Therefore, we need to be careful when it comes to this age group as a means of protecting them. The same is true in regard to individuals with preexisting conditions, especially those with chronic illness.

Isolation measures that are in place are mainly to protect the most vulnerable individuals from infection and lessen the mortality impact of coronavirus. Respecting these measures is for the benefit of all, but especially our senior and most vulnerable citizens.

  • Zhou, F., Yu, T., Du, R., Fan, G., Liu, Y., Liu, Z., … Cao, B. (2020). Articles Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30566-3
  • Evolución y factores de riesgo de mortalidad por COVID-19 – Artículos – IntraMed. (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.intramed.net/contenidover.asp?contenidoid=95681
  • Fauci, A. S., Lane, H. C., & Redfield, R. R. (2020). Covid-19 – Navigating the Uncharted. The New England Journal of Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMe2002387
  • Lai, Chih-Cheng, et al. “Global epidemiology of coronavirus disease 2019: disease incidence, daily cumulative index, mortality, and their association with country healthcare resources and economic status.” International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (2020): 105946.