Why are deaths from coronavirus so high in Italy? | The Daily Star
11:53 AM, March 12, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:32 PM, March 12, 2020

Why are deaths from coronavirus so high in Italy?

Outside of mainland China, Italy currently has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus (COVID-19) in the world.

Italy's fatality rate at 5% is also higher than the global average of 3.4%, according to the World Health Organization.

Now, the question is, why is that the case?

One factor that is affecting the country's death rate could be the age of its population. According to The New York Times, Italy has the oldest population in Europe, with about 23% of residents 65 or older.

The median age in the country is 47.3, compared with 38.3 in the United States, the Times reported. Many of Italy's deaths have been among people in their 80s, and 90s, a population known to be more susceptible to severe complications from COVID-19, according to The Local. 

Given Italy's older population, "you would expect their mortality rate to be higher on average, all else being held equal," compared with a country with a younger population, Aubree Gordon, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan was quoted as saying according to Scientific American.

Another factor may be the number of people in a given area who require medical care. If an area has a lot of severely ill people in a single region, it could potentially overwhelm the medical system, Gordon was quoted as saying.

Finally, the country may not be catching many of the mild cases of COVID-19.  "Italy has conducted a substantial number of tests—more than 42,000 as of March 7," reported Al Jazeera.

However according to Gordon there is likely a "quite a sizeable outbreak" in the area, which would need even more testing to identify.

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