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Low Covid-19 Death Rate in India Could be Result of Country's Large Youth Population

Health workers arrive to screen people for COVID-19 symptoms at a slum in Mumbai, India, Friday, July 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Health workers arrive to screen people for COVID-19 symptoms at a slum in Mumbai, India, Friday, July 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Coupled with a large young population accounting for a minuscule percentage of the total Covid-19 deaths is the low percentage of the vulnerable (above 65 years of age) population in India.

Nikhil Narain
  • CNN-News18
  • Last Updated: July 11, 2020, 1:35 PM IST
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One of the major reasons speculated for the low Covid-19 fatality rate in India, which lies well below 3%, is the country's large percentage of young population. 27% of India’s population is 14 years and below, which is amongst the highest in comparison to major countries of the world.

Percentage of Population - 14 & BELOW

AGE AND COVID-19 DEATHS 1 (1)

Another 29% of the population in the age group 15-29 which means more than half (56%) of India’s population is below the age of 30.

This 56% of the population (of below 30 years of age) has only contributed to 4% of the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the country.

Coupled with a large young population accounting for a miniscule percentage of the total Covid-19 deaths is the low percentage of the vulnerable (above 65 years of age) population in India.

This could be a major reason for the low number of Covid-19 deaths in the country.

Percentage of Population above 65 Years and MR

AGE AND COVID-19 DEATHS - 2 (1)

There seems to be a high correlation between percentage of above-65 population and the mortality rate. Italy, Spain, France, UK, Sweden and Belgium – all have a very high percentage of their population in this category with alarmingly high fatality rates.

In contrast, India has just 6% of its population above-65 with a relatively low overall mortality rate of just 2.71%.

Brazil, which accounts for the second-highest number of cases in the world, also has a low percentage of its population above 65 and a relatively low mortality rate.

Of course, there are exceptions like Mexico which have a low percentage of the elderly and yet a high mortality rate.

Median Age and Mortality Rate

AGE AND COVID-19 DEATHS - 3

A similar conclusion is drawn when we compare the median age of a country with its mortality rate – the lower the median, the lower the deaths and the higher the median, the higher the mortality rate. India’s median age of around 28 is amongst the lowest in comparison to the major nations of the world.

Iran and Brazil, with low age medians, also have a comparatively low mortality rate.

Mexico and Germany are exceptions or outliers. While the former has a low age median yet a very high mortality rate, Germany, which was hailed for its model for containing Covid-19 deaths, has a relatively low mortality rate of 4.58% in spite of a high median age of 46 years.

In terms of age and Covid-19 fatality risk, India is in line with the global trend and pattern – the risk is highest in the above-75 category.

The risk factor rises with the age-group but remains relatively low till the age of 44. However, from the age of 45, the percentage of deaths exceeds the percentage of the population corresponding to a particular age-group and the risk factor rises alarmingly.

10% of India’s population in the 60-plus bracket constitutes 53% of the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the country.

Age-wise Risk Factor of Covid-19

AGE AND COVID-19 DEATHS - 4 (1)

There are several other factors which could also be deemed responsible for the low mortality rate in India – the stringent lockdown, BCG vaccine, hot temperature, high percentage of rural population to name a few.

But having a large proportion of the young and a very low percentage of the old may have just saved a lot of lives for the country.

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