Issue Brief on Older Persons and COVID-19: A Defining Moment for Informed, Inclusive and Targeted Response
As the world grapples with an unparalleled health crisis, older persons have become one of its more visible victims. The pandemic spreads among persons of all ages and conditions, yet available evidence indicates that older persons and those with underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk of serious illness and death from the Covid-19 disease. Often, chronic health conditions are more prevalent in old age, increasing risks for older adults.
Available data from China show that approximately 80 per cent of deaths in the country occurred among adults aged 60 years and over. Similarly, as of March 16, 80 per cent of deaths associated with Covid-19 in the United States were among adults aged 65 and over, with highest fatalities among those 85 years and older. Italy reported that as of mid March, 7.2 per cent of Covid-19 patients had died, which may be attributed to the high rates of infection among older persons, with 38 per cent of Italy’s Covid19 cases affecting people aged 70 years and over. The World Health Organization has reported that over 95 per cent of fatalities due to Covid-19 in Europe have been 60 years or older. Several sources suggest that the death toll in the European region might be higher, especially as data from fatalities in nursing homes become available.