This Should Focus Our Attention on the Vulnerable (News From Italy)

March 13, 2020 2:08 p.m.
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We’re getting our first breakdown of mortality figures from the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy. They should focus our attention on protecting and isolating the vulnerable. Helen Branswell, a reporter for StatNews who has been a critical source of information through this crisis, is sharing information from a teleconference briefing hosted by JAMA. It’s with a top clinician in Lombardy. One slide gives a breakdown of the epidemic by age.

(Source: Helen Branswell)

The case fatality rate here is higher than it is in South Korea and similar though still slightly higher than those from the initial outbreak in Wuhan. That is likely due to an overwhelmed hospital system in which the quality of care becomes degraded and more limited testing of the mildly ill in a crisis context. But what is very consistent is the relationship between age, severity and mortality. Mortality is very limited for people under 50 (only two fatalities under 50 years of age to date out of almost 13,882 infections. But especially for people over age 70, it is highly, highly lethal.

This is why sequestering assisted living facilities and recommending extreme social distancing for the aged is so critical.

We’ve talked over the last day about the question of closing schools. This data adds additional confirmation to the belief that children generally experience a very mild version of this disease. That’s been put forward as an argument for keeping schools open. But historical data about other pathogens (a possibly significant difference) shows that schools can be a key vector for spread through a community.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.

Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).

COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.). (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).

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