At the time of writing, coronavirus affects 28 countries and more than 89,000 patients have been infected. These numbers continue to climb, and the threat of the pandemic is drawing closer and closer to our borders.
According to weekly report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), 1,023 deaths have occurred as a result of Covid-19 in China. This represents a case fatality rate of 2.3%, as only 44,672 cases of viral syndrome with pneumonia were found to be due to the coronavirus, the rest being linked to pneumonia. China, and more specifically the province of Hubei, is the main focus of the epidemic to date. If anyone, anywhere, on land or at sea, can contract this infection, the degree of symptoms and the risk of death vary greatly depending on several demographic factors.
|1. Older people are doing worse. Out of the 1,408 cases of Covid-19 in patients over 80 years of age, 208 deaths have been reported, for a fatality rate (number of deaths per number of cases) of almost 15%. On the other hand, there were no deaths among the 416 cases in children aged 0 to 9, and only one death among the 549 cases in children and adolescents aged 10 to 19.|
|2. People with other chronic diseases are more affected. There are approximately 5,000 cases of people who have reported a known comorbid illness, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease or cancer. The average mortality rate in these groups is between 5 and 10%, while for the others, the mortality rate is less than 1%.|
|3. It’s better to catch it this month than last month. People infected before January 10 had a mortality rate of up to 15%, while those infected after January 1st February, the death rate was less than 1%. This is probably due to an awareness of the potential for contamination, resulting in earlier detection and intervention.|
|4. Women do better than men. According to an article published this week in the New york times, despite the fact that men and women were infected more or less equally (51.4% of cases are men), the death rates differ considerably: 2.8% for men and 1.7% for women.|
Another factor is chronic lung disease caused by smoking, which is likely to play a role in the morbidity and mortality of the coronavirus epidemic. In fact, a third of the world’s smokers live in China. In addition, more than half of Chinese men smoke, while only 2% of Chinese women do. From a health perspective, women tend to turn to medical institutions more easily than men, which increases their chances of being detected and treated early enough. In addition, if washing your hands does not completely prevent the spread of disease, it undoubtedly reduces the risk of large-scale contagion. However, some studies show that men are much less likely to wash their hands with soap than women.
But there is a flip side to the robust immune system of women, which explains that they are more likely to get autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and certain forms of thyroid disease. In autoimmune diseases, the patient’s antibodies attack certain cells, causing inflammatory reactions and chronic disease in one or more organs. Women are in fact more than three times more susceptible to autoimmune diseases than men.
The Covid-19 epidemic, which may soon reach the pandemic stage, does not seem to be slowing down, quite the contrary. Raising awareness of the importance of early detection of the coronavirus, especially in older men, could help health officials control the progression of the disease, at least to some extent.