A Look at the Demographics of COVID-19 Patients

April 1, 2020

On a sunny and warm Saturday afternoon on March 21, New York City's Central Park was packed with people -- jogging, biking, playing, having picnics, or just strolling. Central Park was one of the very few places where residents could take a breath of fresh air before the city's "New York State on Pause", a partial lockdown, which went into effect the following day. Social distancing was hardly observed because it was impossible to stay 6 feet apart in that relatively small area crowded with people. Most of the park goers were young, reflecting the city's younger age population. The statistics and the media have been repeatedly saying that COVID- 19 does not affect younger people by and large, and if they become ill, they have mild symptoms. So, they were out and about.

COVID-19 is a new phenomenon for which consistent data has still yet to converge. Based on the information coming from China, where the outbreak first started, from all 72,314 cases as of February 11, 87% were people between ages of 30 and 79, while teens and people in their 20's seemed to be largely unaffected. Only 8.1% of the cases were in their 20's; 1.2% were teens; and 0.9% were 9 or younger.

In Italy, which is Europe's epicenter of this pandemic, the older population seems to make up a greater portion of the cases. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 37% of cases are 70 and older, compared to 12% of cases in China. The number of deaths in Italy, proportional to the number of registered cases, is also the highest in the world - as of March 31 out of the 105,792 registered cases, 12,428 patients have died. The major factor in the high number of deaths in Italy is age - many of the fatalities are people in their 80's and 90's, an age group that is much more susceptible to serious complications.

Interestingly, in Russia, where the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated only in the past 10 days, a different pattern seems to appear. According to the local authorities in Moscow, only 15% of the 1,014 confirmed cases are over the age of 65. 33% of the infected are between 18 and 34, and 46% are between 35 and 46 years old. Nearly 40% of the patients who need ventilators are under 40 years old. The average age of Moscow's population is 38, with children representing 13.3%, and the elderly above the age of 65 constituting 21.5% of the Muscovites. As it stands, over 67% of the all cases in Russia are in the capital region.

Another finding, which has been partially affecting people's social behavior, is that the COVID-19 fatality rate is much higher in men than in women. While gender disparity in the confirmed cases is not that large, and even in some countries such as France, South Korea, Portugal, skewed more towards women, the fatality rate in men seems to be consistently higher. Based on reports from 12 affected countries (Italy, China, Germany, Spain, Iran, Switzerland, South Korea, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Portugal and Denmark) the number of deaths among males is invariably higher than among females. The largest gap in male/female mortality ratio is reported in Italy and Denmark with 71% male and 29% female fatalities. The lowest mortality ratio is recorded in South Korea with 54% male and 46% female deaths. In the United States, there is no official report yet; however, based on preliminary reporting, the death rate in men is 60%. While there is not a definite answer to why there is a difference in the gender gap fatalities, the initial research points out to smoking habits in men in China, where 50% of men and only 2% of women smoke. However, in Italy that gap is not as wide - 28% of men and 19% of women are smokers. Other studies suggest that men are less likely to follow public health advice and engage in riskier behavior; men are also less likely to have medical checkups, to wash their hands, and to proactively sustain their health. But behavioral factors may not be the only answers to the higher fatality rates in men. Previous studies link weaker antiviral response in men to hormones such as estrogen and also to genes that regulate the immune system. These genes appear to be more active in women than in men.

Local and state authorities as well as international organizations are still collecting and analyzing data. It is very preliminary to announce that one age group is spared from this outbreak, although it appears that the younger population between the age of 0-29 is the least affected. The skewness toward one gender is inconclusive. It is too soon to proclaim that COVID-19 affects many more men than women, although the higher fatality rate in men seems to be overwhelmingly prevalent across countries. One thing is certain -- no one is immune to this disease. Complications and fatalities occur for all ages and for both genders.

News about COVID-19 spread

  • July 5: Up to 8,000 Chinese nationals came into US after Trump banned travel due to coronavirus (1)
  • China recorded 8 new coronavirus cases for July 4, up from with 3 a day earlier (1)
  • July 4: WHO revises coronavirus timeline to clarify its China office raised alert, not authorities (1)
  • July 3: WHO admits China did not self-report its coronavirus outbreak (1)
  • July 2: China reports three new coronavirus cases (1)
  • June 30: China recorded 19 new cases of coronavirus on the mainland on Monday (1)
  • Traveler from US infects 71 people in China with Covid-19, research finds (1)
  • June 29: EU named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed "safe" to be let in from 1 July, US, Brazil and China are excluded (1)
  • China’s military approves coronavirus vaccine for use on soldiers (1)
  • China puts 400,000 inhabitants of Anxin, 90 miles southwest of Beijing in coronavirus lockdown in response to a new outbreak (1)
  • June 28: China reports another 17 coronavirus cases, including 14 that were locally transmitted (1)
  • China industrial firms' May profits post first monthly rise in 6 months (1)
  • June 27: China recorded 21 new coronavirus cases on Friday, including 17 locally transmitted in Beijing, according to country's National Health Commission (1)
  • June 26: China records 13 new coronavirus cases (1)
  • June 21: China reported 26 new confirmed coronavirus cases for June 20, down from 27 a day earlier (1)
  • China suspends poultry imports from Tyson Foods plant in Arkansas following an outbreak of coronavirus cases at the facility (1)
  • June 20: China publishes genome data from latest Beijing outbreak, tracing it to Europe (1)
  • There may be no immunity against Covid-19, new Wuhan study suggests (1)
  • June 19: China bans imported pork from German meat plant after more than 650 infected in outbreak (1)
  • June 18: Beijing reported 21 additional infections Thursday, down from 31 on Wednesday; authorities confirmed 158 new coronavirus cases in Beijing over past week (1)
  • Asymptomatic Covid-19 patients have weaker immune response, China study finds (1)
  • June 17: Beijing cancels 60% of flights to contain fresh coronavirus outbreaks: report (1)
  • Chinese airlines suspended two-thirds of flights out of Beijing amid fresh spike in coronavirus cases (1)
  • June 16: Beijing puts more neighbourhoods under lockdown, boosts testing as it tries to contain new coronavirus outbreak (1)
  • June 15: China locks down 10 more Beijing neighborhoods over new Covid-19 outbreak at wholesale market (1)
  • China to launch new airline despite travel downturn (1)
  • June 14: Coronavirus cases linked to Beijing market climbs to 36, China sees highest daily total in 2 months (1)
  • June 13: Beijing district on lockdown after coronavirus spike shuts market (1)
  • June 12: China reported 7 new virus infections and 1 asymptomatic case (1)
  • June 11: China offers trial vaccines to workers going abroad (1)
  • First new Covid-19 case in Beijing for nearly two months (1)
  • June 8: Satellite data suggests coronavirus may have hit China earlier, researchers say (1)
  • June 4: Thousand of cinemas in China under threat of closure (1)
  • China allows flights from US after pressure from Trump administration (1)
  • June 2: Wuhan tests nearly 9.9 million residents with no new cases found but 300 asymptomatic carriers (1)
  • June 1: China reported 16 new coronavirus cases for May 31, the highest number since May 11 (1)
  • May 24: Chinese state media: Wuhan virology institute had three live bat coronaviruses but none match the global contagion, its director said (1)
  • May 23: China reports no new coronavirus cases for first time since pandemic began (1)
  • May 21: Chinese city of Shulan now under Wuhan-like coronavirus lockdown (1)
  • April 11: Scientists say coronavirus can spread 13 FEET from sufferers - more than twice the 6ft social distancing gap demanded by government - and that isolating infected people at home is not a good strategy (1)
  • April 10: Nearly half of severe COVID-19 cases showed neurological symptoms (1)
  • April 2: Virus masks, apps: The race is on to avoid hidden carriers (1)
  • The FDA Now Says It Will Allow Imports Of KN95 Masks, An Alternative To Scarce N95 Masks (1)
  • March 30: Wuhan Residents Dismiss Official Coronavirus Death Toll: ‘The Incinerators Have Been Working Around the Clock’ (1)
  • March 29: Coronavirus Cases Have Surged, But The US Is Refusing To Take The World’s Most Available Masks (1)
  • Countries reject China pandemic product batches (1)
  • March 26: $20 trillion lawsuit against China! US group says coronavirus is bioweapon (1)
  • March 25: Median time from onset of symptoms until discharge from hospital was 22 days. Those who died lasted 18.5 days after symptoms first appeared. (1)
  • March 23: The Lancet finds 24% fatality rate if admitted to hospital, a 97% fatality rate if requiring mechanical ventilation, and a 100% fatality rate if requiring ECMO. (1)
  • March 19: The pandemic began in China. Today, it reported no new local infections for the first time. (1)
  • March 18: As world cowers, China glimpses coronavirus aftermath (1)
  • New Research: Coronavirus Vulnerability Could Be Partially Determined by Blood Type (1)
  • Second wave hits Asia. (1)
  • China Says Japan-Developed Drug Avigan Works Against Coronavirus (1)
  • HIV drug combo fails as treatment for severe COVID-19 in China study (1)
  • March 17: 6 out of 7 people with coronavirus are walking around undetected, study says (1)
  • People with Type A blood are MORE likely to catch coronavirus than those with Type O, study claims (1)
  • March 16: Moderna and Inovio to start vaccine trials (1)
  • Restaurants in China Are Reopening, But Finding It Hard to Recover Business (1)
  • March 15: India suspends all tourist visas until at least April 15. Declares 14 day quarantine for citizens returning from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, France, and Germany (1)
  • March 14: Hungary extends entry ban. Includes Iran, China, South Kora, Italy, and Israel.
  • March 11: Qatar bans people from 14 countries (1)
  • Coronavirus x-rays show terrifying damage in lungs of Covid-19 victims (1)
  • March 3: Shanghai Government Officially Recommends Vitamin C for COVID-19 (1)
  • February 28: How early signs of the coronavirus were spotted, spread and throttled in China (1)
  • February 17: US and Chinese companies partners to develop vaccine. (1)
  • February 4: The steps needed to lockdown Wuhan, China. (1)