With fatality rate of 7.16%, why is Coronavirus death rate double in Italy than rest of the world?

With 17,660 Covid-19 cases and 1,266 fatalities, the fatality rate in Italy stands at 7.16%, as opposed to the global fatality rate of 3.7%

Italy has reported 17,660 coronavirus cases, along with 1,266 fatalities, as on Saturday, March 14. Friday marked the deadliest day as the country reported 250 deaths, its highest fatalities reported in a day.

The fatality rate, which is calculated by dividing the total number of fatalities by the total number of cases and then is multiplied by a hundred, stands at 7.16 percent for Italy. This is almost double than the global fatality rate of 3.7 percent. Thus, the question arises about such a high fatality rate, in a developed European country.

Older population

Workers make face masks at the workshop of a company in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Jan. 28, 2020. To help fight the outbreak of pneumonia caused by novel coronavirus, workers of local medical material companies in Hubei Province rushed back to work to make protective masks, clothing and other protective equipment to guarantee the supplies. (Xinhua/Cai YangIANS) Xinhua/IANS

It's now a well-established fact that older people and those with underlying health issues are more susceptible to succumbing to Covid-19. With 23 percent Italians aged 65 or above and a median age of 47.3, the Italian population is the oldest in Europe. This is chiefly responsible for the high fatality rate in Italy.

The overall death rate depends on the demographics of a population, Aubree Gordon, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, told Live Science. Due to the country's older population, "you would expect their mortality rate to be higher on average, all else being held equal", she added. Also, older people are more likely to develop other health complications, that further compromises their immune system.

Cases remain undetected

Another reason attributing to the high death rate is testing glitches, resulting in milder cases remaining undetected. With testing being expanded and milder cases being detected, the overall death rate would come down.

Large number of cases in a single region

Majority of cases in Italy have been witnessed in its southern region. When cases are concentrated in a single region, its health infrastructure has to deal with a large number of cases. The overwhelmed medical system is another reason for the high death toll.

This was also observed in China, where Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak had a fertility rate of five percent as compared with 0.7 percent in the rest of the country. WHO has now declared Europe as the new epicentre of Covid-19 pandemic. Outside the Chinese mainland, Italy has been the worst-hit, both, in terms of the number of cases as well as fatalities.

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