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With total cases of coronavirus in Italy surpassing 10,149 and total deaths attributed to coronavirus standing at 631, the mortality rate of coronavirus is staggeringly high at 6.2 %. In the rest of the world including China, the mortality rate currently stands at an approximate 3.9 %.
Although previously the mortality rate was assumed to be 2.2 %, current results report a much higher number. Italy is the second country with the highest number of coronavirus cases closely followed by Iran and South Korea.
Italy’s Aging Population
It is a well-known fact that elderly, immune-compromised people and people with other comorbid conditions are much more likely to die from Coronavirus infection. This could explain the high fatality rate in Italy, a country with citizens over age 65 amounting to almost 23% of the total population.
Reports from Italy state that the most of the people who have succumbed to the infection were in their 80s, with many even more than 90 years.
As total death rate will always be largely influenced by the population demographics, adjusting the death rate based on population demographics is essential to accurately evaluate the nature of a pandemic. Italy’s population demographics provide a clear explanation behind the high mortality rate in comparison to other countries with a more young population composition.
Additionally, the median age is reported to be 47 in Italy, almost a decade higher than in the U.S. With increasing age, comorbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, cancer are common, which further increases the susceptibility to serious complications from coronavirus infection.
The rapid rise in the number of cases may have resulted in a deficiency of adequate treatment to all the patients, which may have further increased the number of fatalities.
Undiagnosed Mild Cases
A major factor that may have influenced the fatality rate is the number of mild cases that have remained undiagnosed. As most people with mild symptoms do not get tested, this might result in an underestimation of the total cases and higher than actual mortality rate. A similar situation was found in South Korea, as total fatality rate was just 0.6% when coronavirus test kit was used to examine all patients from mild to serious symptoms.
As the milder cases come to attention, the death rate may gradually decline in Italy as well.