According to the World Health Organisation, the chances of dying from a coronavirus infection are 4% globally. In light of this, several factors determine the category of people that fall under said 4%. Basically, the general health of the infected person and their access to medical care are most important in determining those who live or die. However, 3 major factors also determine those most likely to die from the coronavirus.
It has become increasingly apparent that Covid-19 discriminates by sex. Men are more likely to test positive and more likely to die from the disease. The trend was first seen in China, where one analysis found a fatality rate of 2.8% in men compared with 1.7% in women. Since then, the pattern has been mirrored in France, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Spain. In Italy, men comprise 71% of deaths and in Spain, data shows twice as many men as women have died. Although the exact cause is unclear, some distinguishing factors have been identified.
Smoking was suggested as a likely explanation. In China, nearly 50% of men but only about 2% of women smoke, and so underlying differences in lung health were assumed to contribute to men suffering worse symptoms and outcomes. A research paper found smokers made up 26% of those who ended up in intensive care or died.
Furthermore, Behavioural factors that differ across genders may also have a role. Some studies have shown that men are less likely to wash their hands, less likely to use soap, less likely to seek medical care and more likely to ignore public health advice. Moreso, previous research has revealed that men have lower innate antiviral immune responses to a range of infections including hepatitis C and HIV. Hormones can also play a role as oestrogen is known to increase antiviral responses of immune cells. And many genes that regulate the immune system are encoded on the X chromosome. Whereas men have one, women have two X chromosomes. Possibly, some genes involved in the immune response are more active in women than in men.
It has been well-publicised that older people are most likely to get infected with Covid-19. They make up the majority of death rates as well. According to current estimates from Imperial College London, the death rate is almost 10 times higher than average for those over 80 and much lower for those under 40. Nevertheless, medical advisors also warn that its age discrimination does not make it a trivial infection for younger people. They emphasize that young people have ended up in intensive care too.
People with previous health conditions:
It’s not just age and gender that determines the risk of death. More than 44,000 cases from China were studied in the first major analysis. Deaths were at least five times more common among confirmed cases with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart or breathing problems.