COVID-19 Deaths and the Link to Pre-existing Conditions


Now that Italy finds itself at the pinnacle of COVID-19 deaths, a recent study by the Instituto Superiore di Sanita (ISS) also known as the Italian National Institute of Health, is particularly pertinent given the global panic over the "deadly" novel coronavirus.  Let's look at some of the ISS's findings.

The paper that was written on March 17, 2020, looked at the deaths of 2,003 patients as shown on this table:

As you can see, 1,425 of the deaths or 71.1 percent of the total came from the Lombardy region with the next highest number at 346 or 17.3 percent of the total coming from the Emilia-Romagna region (capital city of Bologna) located in the northwest corner of Italy.

Here is a graphic showing the median age of those tested and dying from COVID-19:

The median age of Italians dying from COVID-19 is 80.5 years with a range from 31 years of age to 103 years of age.  The average age of death was 79.5 years.

Here is a graphic showing the number of deaths by age group with Donne meaning women, Uomini meaning men and Tutti meaning all or total:

As you can see, substantially more men than women have died as a result of COVID-19 and most of those grind have been in the age range of between 70 and 89 years of age with only 17 deaths or 0.85 percent of the total being age 49 or younger.  Of those younger than 40, all had serious pre-existing conditions including cardiovascular, renal, diabetes, obesity and psychiatric diseases.

Now, let's look at the most important aspect of this paper.  The authors looked at the pre-existing conditions exhibited by those who died as a result of COVID-19.  The authors obtained this data by looking at the most common pre-existing chronic pathologies in a representative sample of 355 deaths out of the 2,003 deaths and found the following:

1.) The average number of pathologies observed in this population is 2.7 (median 2, Standard Deviation 1.6). 

2.) 3 patients (0.8% of the sample) had 0 pathologies.

3.) 89 patients (25.1%) had 1 pathology.

4.) 91 (25.6%) patients had 2 pathologies.

5.) 172 (48.5%) had 3 or more pathologies.

This means that 99.2 percent of those Italians whose complete medical history was examined and whose death was associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic had pre-existing conditions.

Here is a table showing the pre-existing conditions that were noted among those who had died:

When looking at Italy's situation we have to consider the state of its health care system – as shown in this graphic from the 2018 edition of the Euro Health Consumer Index by Health Consumer Powerhouse, compared to its developed economy European peers, Italy's health care system is poorly ranked:

This research begs the question; is the global panic over the COVID-19 pandemic warranted when put into perspective against other common health conditions?  As a person with a science background, I find the lack of a scientific approach to this pandemic appalling; no one (particularly those in government) seems to be questioning whether the the death rate among those with pre-existing conditions are similar to the death rates that we experience during the normal seasonal influenza season.  I believe that my sense of this reality is particularly pertinent when we compare the latest coronavirus panic to the far more widespread seasonal influenza as shown on this graphic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

I don't know why but my feeling is that we are the unwitting subjects of a gigantic social experiment.
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