Little risk of death to general population
By Timothy Easling, Contributor
Provinces across Canada have started to implement protective measures again for COVID-19, but the numbers for COVID-19 actually show much reason for hope. (If the concern is about gettingCOVID then there is cause for worry, but if the concern is about dyingfrom COVID then most citizens can rest a little easier.)
As per the BCCDC’s weekly report, BC has seen 6,724 cases since the start of the virus with 213 deaths (September 10 report). The province suffered 164 deaths (77 percent of total) until June 1 over 2,573 cases (38.3 percent of total). However, since then the province has seen 49 deaths (23 percent) over 4,151 cases (61.7 percent). Despite the overwhelming majority of cases having taken place since June 1—particularly in the last month—the overwhelming majority of deaths occurred before then.
Many have been very concerned about children returning to schools. Of BC’s 213 deaths, zero have been from the 0 to 39 age bracket despite accounting for 52 percent of all cases. If the 40 to 59 age bracket is included, that total balloons to 79 percent of all cases but still only 3 percent of deaths (8 total). The 70-and-up bracket has accounted for only 13 percent of cases but 87 percent of all deaths.
Though tragic for those affected, deaths appear to continue to be primarily in long-term care homes (LTC)—a figure reported at the height of the pandemic as 81 percent of Canada’s total. The upside is that those not in long-term care have a very low chance of succumbing to the disease. Canada’s population is estimated at 37,971,020 and the total LTC beds is estimated at 263,000. The government has not released full public figures for LTC deaths, but if that 81 percent has remained consistent (as reports suggest), then LTCs have accounted for 7,348 of the country’s 9,072 deaths; this leaves 1,724 deaths—or 0.004572 percent of the rest of the population.
The average Canadian’s risk continues to drop the more the stats are analyzed. While poor conditions in LTCs are a likely contributor to the unfortunate death toll, also playing into the equation are pre-existing medical conditions. The Canadian government has not released public figures for comorbidities but the USA has—with the similarities between the two countries there are some comparisons to be made.
The USA has seen 179,927 COVID-19 deaths (as of September 12) but only 6 percent of those were solely due to coronavirus. Ninety-four percent of cases had at least one underlying medical condition—with an average of 2.6. These conditions are serious issues, not simple afflictions like a cold. Of the near-180,000 deaths, 77,012 had pneumonia or influenza (42.8 percent). To put this into a Canadian perspective, the country recorded 6,235 deaths from pneumonia and influenza in 2016, 7,396 in 2017, and 8,511 in 2018. The steady climb is reflected in an aging population; overall deaths have increased by more than 6,000 deaths per year since 2012 (246,596 in 2012 and 283,706 in 2018).
The American CDC also lists some conditions that increase the risk of hospitalization with COVID-19 compared to those without; hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease all result in being three times as likely (or more—severe obesity is rated at 4.5 times). By applying the inverse logic, numbers suggest that those without existing conditions are significantly less at-risk.
The risk to the general population of Canada has been greatly overstated—with the likelihood of death dropping off significantly for those not in LTCs or of advanced age—especially when death totals are compared to case totals. Of the country’s death count 96.8 percent (8,871) of those are from 60-and-up, 89.5 percent from 70-and-up, and 71.3 percent from 80-and-up. Although those 60-and-up account for 96.8 percent of all deaths, they are only 30.6 percent (39,806) of the total case number (130,566 as of writing); this figure further drops to 21.2 percent (27,596) for 70-and-up, and 14.5 percent (18,867) for 80-and-up. Those 80-and-up have suffered 71.3 percent of deaths but are less than a fifth of all cases.
The 50 to 59 age bracket is 2.4 percent of the total (214 deaths) despite accounting for 14.4 percent of all cases (18,852). Less than 1 percent of all of Canada’s deaths come from the 0 to 49 age bracket (77 deaths), and the 0 to 39 age bracket has seen only 26 deaths over the course of the pandemic while recording 40.2 percent of all cases (52,481). In summary, the 0 to 59 age bracket has seen 69.4 percent of cases but less than 3.5 percent of the deaths.
The country has also seen a steep drop in the fatality rate since the peak of COVID. From April 4 to May 4 the country saw 37.4 percent (48,788) of the total cases take place and 45.2 percent (4,103) of the deaths (April 14 to May 14). From August 4 to September 4 Canada’s case number was 9.9 percent of the total (12,978) with 1.8 percent of deaths (164—from August 14 to September 14).
Also of note from the previous figures is that the April-May period saw 43.5 percent (21,221) of its numbers from the 60-and-up bracket. That large figure fell when compared to the August-September period; only 13.1 percent (1,695) were in the 60-and-up bracket, with majority 86.9 percent (11,283) dominated by those under 60. Not to be missed is the fact that young people are continuing to get COVID but not dying from it—61.6 percent (7,992) were below the age of 40, 42.5 percent below the age of 30 (5,511), and 2,224 (17.1) below the age of 20.
COVID-19 has led to the suffering and loss of many loved ones, but the general population can find some solace in the fact that there is very little risk of dying for those not of advanced age, with multiple pre-existing conditions, or in LTCs.