Health, 27.03.2020

Long life expectancy, many deaths?

The fact that the virus claims many victims in Italy is also due to the large number of old people. What about Switzerland?

Report from Bruno Knellwolf

In Italy, more people are dying from the new Corona virus than in the comparable stage of the epidemic in China. in both countries, it’s mainly elderly and old people who are affected.

According to current studies, approximately 90% of deceased patients were more than 70 years old, and 50% percent were over 80. You don't need to be a mathematician to work out that countries where more old people live are likely to have more corona virus deaths. Italy is the country with the fifth-highest life expectancy in the world. China is in the middle of the world life-expectancy ranking: on average, its people live seven years less than Italians.

On average, the Swiss live even longer than people in Italy. A high life expectancy is very positive for a country and its people, as it reflects prosperity and a functioning health system. In this case, however, it raises some concerns, because it may result in more corona virus deaths.

The statistical figures have to be put into perspective, however: fortunately, simply being old is not a corona death sentence. Because it can be heard from the hospitals and from infectiologists that it primarily affects people who are at the end of their lives anyway, i.e., patients with previous illnesses who would otherwise have died within a short time. To date, only three deaths have been identified in Italy that died simply because of the novel virus. Every death is a tragic individual fate, but the decisive point here is not whether the corona virus or some other pathogen is actually responsible for this two weeks later. But it does affect the corona virus death statistics.

In addition, age is not the only decisive factor for the corona risk, but health and lifestyle of the elderly. And Switzerland has good cards in hand there.

Italy and Switzerland without comprehensive nationwide tests
Nevertheless, the high death rate of eight percent in Italy compared to three percent in China is a cause for concern. The discrepancy could be related to the fact that only patients with clear symptoms are tested in Italy in the first place.

As in Switzerland, there are no nationwide tests. As almost 90 percent of corona infections go undetected, as the infectiologist Pietro Vernazza says, many people in Italy are also carriers of the virus, but do not appear in the statistics. The number of infected people is therefore much higher, and the mortality rate is actually lower.

The latter also applies to China. The number of infections there dropped to zero after a few weeks., Fewer than 100,000 people out of 10 million people are affected in Wuhan. According to Vernazza, this is only possible if people have become immune in the meantime through unnoticed infection. The rate of silent infections may turn out to be even higher after further research, which will reduce the percentage of corona deaths at all ages. If the number of infected people in Italy is five times higher than assumed, the death rate would be only 1.7 percent.

According to an article in the NZZ, we should soon be able to get an overall picture thanks to the Veneto region. The entire population there is to be tested, across the board.

If the death rate in Italy really is higher than in China, it may also have something to do with the way of life.

The Dolce Vita of the family-oriented Italians is less likely to go along with coercive state measures than the authoritarian Chinese way of life.

According to the Financial Times, the small state of Singapore and the city of Hong Kong where the number of cases has decreased rapidly thanks to rapid measures, prove that the disease can be controlled in wealthy countries with a high life expectancy,.

Hong Kong has an even longer life expectancy than Switzerland, and Singapore is also among the best.

Worldwide Top Ten for life expectancy

 

men

women

Hong Kong

81.9

87.6

Switzerland

81.7

85.6

Japan

81.1

87.3

Macau

81.0

86.9

Italy

81.0

85.6

Norway

80.9

84.2

Israel

80.7

84.6

Singapore

80.7

85.2

Sweden

80.6

84.1

Liechtenstein

80.6

84.0

 

Other countries currently heavily affected by the corona virus COVID-19

 

men

women

Spain

80.5

86.3

Germany

78.5

83.5

United States

76.1

81.1

Iran

75.2

77.4

China

74.3

7.88