Population-level COVID-19 mortality risk for non-elderly individuals overall and for non-elderly individuals without underlying diseases in pandemic epicenters.
Environ Res. 2020 09 ;188:109890. Epub 2020 Jul 1. PMID: 32846654
John P A Ioannidis
OBJECTIVE: To provide estimates of the relative rate of COVID-19 death in people<65 years old versus older individuals in the general population, the absolute risk of COVID-19 death at the population level during the first epidemic wave, and the proportion of COVID-19 deaths in non-elderly people without underlying diseases in epicenters of the pandemic.
ELIGIBLE DATA: Cross-sectional survey of countries and US states with at least 800 COVID-19 deaths as of April 24, 2020 and with information on the number of deaths in people with age<65. Data were available for 14 countries (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK) and 13 US states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania). We also examined available data on COVID-19 deaths in people with age<65 and no underlying diseases.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Proportion of COVID-19 deaths in people<65 years old; relative mortality rate of COVID-19 death in people<65 versus≥65 years old; absolute risk of COVID-19 death in people<65 and in those≥80 years old in the general population as of June 17, 2020; absolute COVID-19 mortality rate expressed as equivalent of mortality rate from driving a motor vehicle.
RESULTS: Individuals with age<65 account for 4.5-11.2% of all COVID-19 deaths in European countries and Canada, 8.3-22.7% in the US locations, and were the majority in India and Mexico. People<65 years old had 30- to 100-fold lower risk of COVID-19 death than those≥65 years old in 11 European countries and Canada, 16- to 52-fold lower risk in US locations, and less than 10-fold in India and Mexico. The absolute risk of COVID-19 death as of June 17, 2020 for people<65 years old in high-income countries ranged from 10 (Germany) to 349 per million (New Jersey) and it was 5 per million in India and 96 per million in Mexico. The absolute risk of COVID-19 death for people≥80 years old ranged from 0.6 (Florida) to 17.5 per thousand (Connecticut). The COVID-19 mortality rate in people<65 years old during the period of fatalities from the epidemic was equivalent to the mortality rate from driving between 4 and 82 miles per day for 13 countries and 5 states, and was higher (equivalent to the mortality rate from driving 106-483 miles per day) for 8 other states and the UK. People<65 years old without underlying predisposing conditions accounted for only 0.7-3.6% of all COVID-19 deaths in France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Georgia, and New York City and 17.7% in Mexico.
CONCLUSIONS: People<65 years old have very small risks of COVID-19 death even in pandemic epicenters and deaths for people<65 years without underlying predisposing conditions are remarkably uncommon. Strategies focusing specifically on protecting high-risk elderly individuals should be considered in managing the pandemic.