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Age, causal conditions increase coronavirus death risk

Published : 23 Oct 2020, 01:16

Updated : 23 Oct 2020, 01:18

  DF Report

File Photo: City of Helsinki by Boy Hulden.

Age and underlying conditions significantly increase the risk of a person infected with coronavirus being hospitalised or dying, said the National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) in a statement on Thursday.

Risk groups include, in particular, those over the age of 70 and those with conditions that impair the functioning of the lungs, heart or the immune system.

"Age clearly increases the risk of death among infected persons, even when they have no underlying conditions. In older people, underlying conditions increase the risk even further,” said THL Research Professor Markku Peltonen.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare has examined the need for hospital-care and the mortality of person’s with coronavirus by reviewing data from the Register of Infectious Diseases, the Care Register for Healthcare and data from Kela on special reimbursement rights for medicines.

This autumn, those who have tested positive for coronavirus have been younger than those who tested positive in the spring. In the spring, the average age of those who tested positive was 48, while this autumn it is 38. This is partly due to testing practices, as in the spring testing capacity was limited, and fewer people were tested at that time.

Throughout this year, nine% of all infected persons have been over the age of 70, while their age group accounts for 20% of the adult population.

The number of infected men and women has been almost the same. However, men require hospitalisation in the intensive care unit due to a serious case of COVID-19 and die more often than women. The most common underlying conditions examined were diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and hypertension.

"Protecting risk groups, such as those over the age of 70 and those with underlying conditions, is still important to prevent serious coronavirus cases. We were fairly successful in doing so this past spring,” added Peltonen.

The mortality rate is low for those under the age of 50, at the level of the entire population as well as with regard to those infected with coronavirus. Underlying conditions, such as severe heart disease, severe pulmonary disease, or diabetes, did not significantly increase the risk of infected persons under the age of 50 dying compared to the entire population.

However, underlying conditions did increase the risk of death among infected people older than this. Old age increased the risk of death from COVID-19 also among those persons with no underlying conditions. Overall, the mortality rate within 30 days of testing positive was nearly 10 per cent for those aged 70-74 and over 25 per cent for those aged 75-79.