Demography and age-specific mortality for COVID-19
16 April 2020
Right: Animation of Expected deaths by total population (per 1,000) and proportion of total population by age group for Italy, USA and Nigeria, with varying levels of infection rates from 0% to 100%.
Deaths from COVID-19 have been concentrated at older ages. By examining the role of age structure in deaths in Italy and South Korea, Jennifer Dowd (Deputy Director of the Leverhulme Centre and Nuffield Associate) and co-authors – including current and former Nuffield Fellows and students – illustrate how the pandemic could unfold in populations with similar population sizes but different age structures, showing a higher burden of mortality in countries with older versus younger populations.
The article was picked up by the international press whilst published as a working paper in March. For a summary, see for example:
- 'Why we still don't know what the death rate is for COVID-19' (New Scientist, 3 April 2020)
- 'In Britain, old people already practise social distancing' (The Economist, 21 March 2020)
- ‘Why the Coronavirus Hit Italy So Hard’ (Wired, 17 March 2020)
(Jennifer Dowd, Valentina Rotondi, Liliana Andriano, David M. Brazel, Per Block, Xuejie Ding, Yan Liu, Melinda C. Mills, 'Demographic science aids in understanding the spread and fatality rates of COVID-19', 16 April 2020. PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.2004911117)