COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly over the past several months, and the U.S. death toll has now reached 400,000.
In a new study, researchers found that COVID-19 is dangerous not only for the elderly but for middle-aged adults.
The research was conducted by a team at Dartmouth and elsewhere.
In the study, the team did a systematic review of all available studies of COVID-19 prevalence in countries with advanced economies.
The review encompassed more than 1,000 research papers and government documents disseminated prior to September 18, 2020.
The research team identified 27 studies where the survey design was representative of the general population, covering 34 geographical locations in the U.S., Canada, Asia, and Europe.
Using those prevalence data, they examined the age-specific ratio of COVID-19 fatalities to infections and found a very clear link.
For a person who is middle-aged, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is about 100 times greater than dying from a car accident.
Generally speaking, very few children and young adults die of COVID-19. However, the risk is progressively greater for middle-aged and older adults.
The odds that infection becomes fatal is only 1:10,000 at age 25, whereas those odds are roughly 1:100 at age 60, 1:40 at age 70, and 1:10 at age 80.
The findings are consistent with the CDC’s Weekly Updates by Select Demographic and Geographic Characteristics, which report on COVID-19 deaths by age group
Nearly 40% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths have occurred among those ages 45 to 74 years, while almost 60% have occurred among those over 75 years old.
By contrast, children and young adults (less than 45 years old) account for less than 3% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths.
The team says while COVID-19 vaccines are now being distributed, several more months are likely to pass before these vaccines have been fully disseminated to the public.
People need to get through this period as safely as possible.
Taking basic precautions—including wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands often—is critical to protecting yourself, family, friends, and community members from this very deadly disease.
One author of the study is Andrew Levin, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College.
The study is published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.
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