Old people, men and chronically ill people are at risk of dying from the Chinese coronavirus, scientists warn. Children, however, have little to no effect on COVID-19.
Today, over 75 thousand people are infected with the coronavirus COVID-19, mainly in China. Almost 15 thousand have already recovered, 2012 people have died. Chinese researchers figured out for whom COVID-19 is deadly, and for whom the disease will pass easily and will not cause serious harm to health. They presented the results in an article in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology.
Scientists have analyzed over 70 thousand cases of infection. This study was the largest since the beginning of the epidemic.
In 80.9% of cases, the disease occurs with mild or moderate symptoms, the researchers note.
There are about 13.8% of severe cases, and only 4.7% are critical.
The elderly are at risk. Among them, the highest mortality rate is 14.8%. There were no deaths among children under the age of nine. At the same time, at least two cases of infection of newborns are known - they caught the virus from their mothers.
In the age group under 39, the mortality rate is only 0.2% and increases with age: in forty-year-olds, the risk of dying from coronavirus is 0.4%, in fifty-year-olds - 1.3%, by the age of 70 it reaches 8% and continues to grow.
Men die more often than women - 2, 8% versus 1, 7%.
Also more often victims are patients with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases.
The overall mortality from the virus was 2.3%. This is a very modest figure compared to the SARS of 2002-2003, the mortality rate from which was almost 10% with a much lower infection rate. However, the mortality rate is higher than with seasonal flu: in October 2019 - February 2020, 0.1% of those infected in the United States died of influenza.
Almost 86% of those infected are residents of Wuhan or visited it during the epidemic. Since January 23, the city's borders have been closed.
Among the medical workers, 1,716 people were infected, five died. 64% of those infected worked in Wuhan.
"The percentage of severe cases among medical personnel in Wuhan has gradually decreased from 38.9% at its peak (January 28) to 12.7% in early February," the report said.
The epidemic peaked on January 24-26 and began to decline, the researchers said. By mid-February, there was already a decline in the number of infections. Experts suggest that the decision to close the borders of Wuhan and impose strict restrictions in other affected areas had a beneficial effect on the situation.
The spread of the virus was facilitated by the outflow of people from China in connection with the holidays, the researchers said. As they return, a new outbreak of the epidemic is possible.
Coronaviruses can adapt to conditions and become more virulent, the authors of the work warn and urge doctors to remain vigilant.
Previously, it was found that COVID-19 has practically no effect on children - by mid-January there were no known cases of infection of people under 15 years old. The researchers suggested that children are less susceptible to infection or, in the event of illness, suffer fewer symptoms.
The new coronavirus is very similar to the one that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003. Then, among more than 8 thousand patients, there were only 80 laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease among children, and another 55 had symptoms of SARS, but tests were not carried out. Later it was found that SARS in children under 12 years of age was much easier than in adults, children and adolescents were not among those who died from the disease, and only one case of transmission of the virus from a child to another person was recorded.
Scientists have two explanations for this turn of events both in 2002 and today - either children are less susceptible to infection, or their body fights the virus more effectively.
In addition, the current outbreak of coronavirus started with infections in the seafood market, where not many children go. Adults, aware of the possibility of infection, closely monitor hygiene and, when symptoms appear, stay away from children, which inhibits the spread of the virus among them.
The researchers note that they did not collect data specifically from children's hospitals, so the data may not be entirely accurate. However, if children were at risk of contracting coronavirus, a much larger number of cases would already be known.