New Paper On Death Risk

By April 9, 2020 Commentary

John Ioannidis is a semi-hero to me because he has done so much work regarding the poor quality of published research, especially in health care.  He has also been one of the voices of sanity in the discussion about appropriate responses to the virus.  He and co-authors have published a new paper on death risk for different age groups.   (Medrxiv Paper)   The study used data from a number of countries, including the United States, and focused on the proportion of all deaths occurring in those over and under 65 years of age and the relative and absolute risk of those age cohorts, and persons over 80, of dying from coronavirus disease.

Depending on the European country, the percent of all deaths that occurred to people under age 65 ranges from 5% to 9%.  In three US hotbed cities, it was 30%.  The relative risk for those under age 65 versus those over was 34 to 73 times less in Europe and 13 to 15 times lower in the US.  The absolute risk for the under 65 in Europe was 1.7 per million population and 79 per million population in New York City.  For people over 80, the absolute risk was 1 in 6000 in Germany and 1 in 420 in Spain.  People aged 65 or less, with no predisposing conditions, accounted for only .3% of deaths in the Netherlands, .7% in Italy and 1.8% in New York City.  Explanations for why the risk of death appears to be higher for the under 65 group in the US than in Europe could include poorer health habits, worse access to health care, and socioeconomic factors.

The conclusion of the study is obvious, efforts to contain the epidemic should be directed toward the elderly and those with underlying conditions which might be conducive to serious illness.  Seems like we are hearing a lot of that sort of recommendation recently.  Since the bulk of the workforce is under age 65, following this approach would allow almost everyone to go back to work.

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