Mortality statistics from COVID-19 countries: what determines and why, varies greatly

When checking the latest data on the growth of diseases and deaths from COVID-19 catches the eye is a significant difference in the number of deaths in different countries. What she explained? Tells DW.

Статистика смертности от COVID-19 в странах мира: от чего зависит и почему существенно различается

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If you look at the total number of diagnosed cases of infection with coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in Germany, the number of deaths resulting from pneumonia COVID-19 in the country is relatively small: currently, the so-called mortality rate is less than 0.4 percent. In comparison with Germany, in Italy it is still extremely high: according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, to March 24, 2020, the figure was about 20 times higher.

Why is this a significant difference? According to the world health organization (who), this indicator is affected by factors such as age of patients, level of care and — last but not least — the number of tests conducted. Because the number of cases included in the statistics, has a significant impact on the published data, including on mortality rate. In some countries, a test for the coronavirus carried out even to those people who have died at first glance, from other diseases.

Factor # 1: Number of tests

In Italy the average age of people diagnosed with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is 63 years of age. In Germany it ranges from 45 years. Quite possibly, this is due to the fact that in Italy a test for the coronavirus was doing a much smaller number of young people with mild symptoms of the disease, than in Germany. Consequently, they were not considered when compiling statistical data. And this, in turn, increases the mortality rate, because it is visible only the tip of the iceberg — the patients with severe symptoms.

Besides, according to Italian newspaper Corrierre della Sera, in Italy, in all likelihood, the great number of unrecorded cases, but the number of unregistered from the coronavirus deaths. The exact opposite approach can be seen in South Korea: there is a lot more tests for coronavirus than in most other countries, and the mortality rate is extremely low.

Factor No. 2: the Average age of the population

A certain role can play and the average age of the population in the country. The elderly are particularly at risk of infection with coronavirus. Danger of reinforcing existing chronic disease and weakened overall immune system. Elderly people are at risk when we are talking about communicable diseases.

However, this factor cannot explain the differences in mortality rate between Germany and Italy, since the age structure of both countries is about the same. In 2018, the average age of the Germans was 46 years, Italian was 46.3 years.

This indicator is likely to play a role in setting the mortality rate in African countries located South of the Sahara, where the average age of the population is much lower. For example, in Mali, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he is about 16 years.

Factor No. 3: the Beginning of the epidemic

Another possible explanation of the different mortality rates may be the start time of the sharp spread of coronavirus. In Italy and Spain, which are affected by the epidemic is much more serious Germany, she broke out early. But since the infection with the virus SARS-CoV-2 to death from the resulting pneumonia COVID-19 passes any time by the end of the epidemic the mortality likely will increase.

Some scientists believe that the epidemic in Germany has not yet reached its peak. If this is true, the country is likely to face an increase in the number of deaths.

Factor # 4: Level of care

But the most important thing in a situation with the rapid spread of the epidemic in the country is the state of the health system and its ability to hold a number of illnesses from rising exponentially.

Connect critically ill patients to the ventilators can reduce the number of deaths. Therefore, it is crucial sufficient number of places in intensive care, where they put the patients in need of emergency assistance.

If the national health system overwhelmed by a sharp increase in the number of infected, to prevent the death of patients who do not receive the necessary care and treatment is almost impossible.

For example, compare Germany with Italy, you can see that the difference in the number of beds in intensive care units between them is huge. In Italy with a population of around 60 million people at the beginning of the epidemic it was 5 thousand. In Germany, where I live, nearly 80 million people in intensive care units is about 28 thousand jobs. And now all measures are taken as soon as possible to double this number.

In other countries, the number of beds in intensive therapy, taking into account the total number of inhabitants is quite varied. So, in Germany, 100 thousand people have 29 places in the United States with 34, Italy — 12 Spain — 10.

It is also noteworthy that in South Korea, which, thanks to the massive testing and rigorous restrictions have had significant success in curbing the epidemic, 100 thousand people have only 10.6 places in intensive care units.

The success of South Korea in the fight against coronavirus is primarily due to the fact that the strict quarantine measures imposed by the government of the country has allowed early on to keep the curve to the infection from growing exponentially. The total number of registered cases of infection, there is still not gone beyond 10 thousand. For comparison, in Italy the number of cases exceeded 80 thousand, in Spain — 64 thousand.

As long as the pandemic continues, the number of cases and deaths from country to country and from continent to continent is markedly different. More or less accurate statistics and reliable data will be available only after the pandemic will come to naught.

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