Oh the 47,000 people who have coronavirus in Italy, over 4,000 have died, with 627 dying in 24 hours from the 19th to the 20th. There are interesting reasons for that. One is their population is aging, and the another is 88% of them didn’t die directly from coronavirus although they tested positive for it according to a Telegraph report.
Doctors automatically record everyone with coronavirus who died as dying from it although they might have been dying from something else.
That could be a tough call, however, if a patient’s lungs fill up with fluid due to the virus and the patient with a bad heart has a heart attack, what killed the patient?
Italy has an 8% death rate while Germany’s is just .3%. Italy’s death rate is almost twice that of China’s.
The reasons for this might be twofold. The average age of patients in Italy is 67 while in China, it is 47. Secondly, everyone who dies with coronavirus, even if coronavirus isn’t the cause, is recorded as having died of coronavirus.
In fact, only 12% of the patients who are listed as dying from coronavirus died directly from coronavirus.
According to Prof Walter Ricciardi, scientific adviser to Italy’s minister of health, the country’s mortality rate is far higher due to demographics – the nation has the second oldest population worldwide – and the manner in which hospitals record deaths.
“The age of our patients in hospitals is substantially older – the median is 67, while in China it was 46,” Prof Ricciardi says. “So essentially the age distribution of our patients is squeezed to an older age and this is substantial in increasing the lethality.”
A study in JAMA this week found that almost 40 per cent of infections and 87 per cent of deaths in the country have been in patients over 70 years old.
But Prof Ricciardi added that Italy’s death rate may also appear high because of how doctors record fatalities.
“The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus.
On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,” he says.
Other experts have also expressed scepticism about the available data. Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says that countries do not yet have a good indication of how many mild infections they have.
If further testing finds more asymptomatic cases spreading undetected, the mortality rate will drop.
There are other factors including the high rate of smoking and the serious pollution problem.
Most of the deaths were in the Lombardy region which has terrible air quality.
Also, Italy’s health system have been overwhelmed with a surge of coronavirus patients and are struggling to cope.
“Doctors in Italy haven’t been dealing with one or two patients in care… but up to 1,200,” says Dr Mike Ryan, health emergencies programme executive director at the World Health Organization. “The fact they’re saving so many is a small miracle in itself.”
This pressure is likely to get worse as more healthcare workers are infected and have to isolate – already, 2,000 have contracted the virus in Italy.