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Coronavirus: Scottish victims older than average life expectancy

The average age patients die from coronavirus in Scotland is older than the age at which people pass away normally, stark figures show. 

National Records of Scotland (NRS) data reveal the median age of a Covid-19 death north of the border is 81 for men and 85 for women.

By contrast, the life expectancy for a man in Scotland is 80.5 and females typically live to 84, according to the Office for National Statistics. 

It backs claims from top scientists that thousands of the patients who have passed away in the outbreak may have died soon, regardless of the disease.   

The data adds to a mountain of evidence that has showed Covid-19 predominantly strikes the elderly, with schoolchildren more at risk of being hit by lightning than falling victim to the virus.

Experts approached by MailOnline were split about the significance of the finding, with some claiming it ‘reinforced the extraordinary impact age has on the risk of dying from the coronavirus’.

Others said they ‘expected the difference to be greater’ and cautioned ‘there is always a risk if you catch Covid-19 you could die’ — regardless of age.  

For the UK as a whole, the median age of coronavirus victims is the same as in Scotland. But general life expectancy is slightly higher on average in the other home nations — 82-and-a-half for men and 85 for women.  

The average age patients die from coronavirus in Scotland is older than the age at which people pass away normally, stark figures show

 

The median age of coronavirus deaths in Scotland were revealed by a Freedom of Information (FOI) request because the NRS does not give a detailed breakdown of virus deaths by age group.

Cambridge University statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter, who helped MailOnline crunch the numbers, said: ‘These median ages [in Scotland] at death with Covid closely match those in England and Wales.

‘It reinforces that Covid-19 follows the familiar pattern of human risk, in which the elderly are hugely more vulnerable than the young.’  

But Keith Neal, emeritus professor in epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, urged caution when interpreting the median age. 

He said care home residents were skewing the age upwards, and that studies had suggested Covid-19 victims lose 10 years of life on average.      

Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, echoed Professor Neal’s comments.

He told MailOnline: ‘The average ages are not that different between Covid and non-Covid deaths, personally I would have expected the difference to be greater.  

Analysis of UK Government figures by Professor David Spiegelhalter shows that the risk of dying from the illness gets exponentially worse with age

Analysis of UK Government figures by Professor David Spiegelhalter shows that the risk of dying from the illness gets exponentially worse with age

School children under 15 have just a 3.5MILLION-to-one chance of dying from coronavirus and are more likely to be hit by lightning 

School children under the age of 15 have a ‘tiny’ one-in-3.5million chance of dying from coronavirus and are more likely to be hit by lightning, according to analysis of death figures last month. 

Sir David Spiegelhalter, from the University of Cambridge, analysed data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) up to June 9.

He found the death rate for youngsters aged five to 14 in England and Wales is around one in 3.5million and for under-5s it is one in 1.17million — only 14 people aged under 19 have died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak. 

In comparison, between 30 and 60 people are hit by lightning every year in the UK, according to figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. 

This is a risk of between one in 2.21million and one in 1.1million each year, the Daily Telegraph reported, although it was unclear how many people hit by lightning are children.  

Sir David said: ‘In school kids aged five to 14 it’s not only a tiny risk, it’s a tiny proportion of the normal risk.

‘I remember the pre-vaccination era and I was sent round to play with friends with measles, mumps and chickenpox. 

‘I’m not suggesting this is the public health solution to this, but if no vaccines come along you might be thinking that.’

‘The moderate increase in average age in the Covid 19 deaths is likely because the age very few younger people and children die of Covid.

‘We have known for weeks that older people over 70 are much more likely to die but there are still a lot of deaths in younger people. So I am not sure I would agree that the statistic is reassuring.’

Dr Andrew Preston, from the University of Bath, added: ‘The average of 85 and 81 is high, but again I think reflects the age groups that are suffering fatalities.

‘Covid-19 also affects those with underlying issues, but this is still primarily in the older age groups, i.e. if you’re in your 60’s you’re much more likely to die from Covid-19 if you have, for example, diabetes or cardiovascular, disease than someone comparable who doesn’t.’ 

Dr Ben Ainsworth, from the University of Bath, said: ‘It is not that surprising that the average age is high because mortality is much higher for older people. However, average data like this only shows general trends. 

‘Sadly there is always a risk if you catch Covid-19, no matter what age group you are in, of serious consequences for both yourself and people that you come into contact with.’

For the UK as a whole, the median age of coronavirus victims is also 81 for men and 85 for women, fractionally lower than the life expectancy. 

But people in other parts of the UK generally live longer than those in Scotland – 82-and-a-half for men and 85 for women. 

There are several reasons why older people have trouble fighting off infections, including Covid-19.

The likelihood of having chronic conditions increases markedly as people age, with four out of five over-65s living with at least one underlying health condition.

Elderly people also have weaker immune systems, a natural side-effect of the body ageing, which makes it harder to fight off infections before they become serious. 

The vast majority of people who get infected with the new coronavirus recover, with most sufferers experiencing a fever or cough that clear in two or three weeks.

The spike in the risk of death for those aged 65 and above is staggering, researchers working on the Geneva study explained

The spike in the risk of death for those aged 65 and above is staggering, researchers working on the Geneva study explained

There have been more than 4,190 deaths linked to coronavirus in Scotland so far.

About 77 per cent of them involved people aged 75 or over, according to data up to July 15.

The virus has killed 28 people under the age of 45, and no one below 15, according to the NRS.    

It comes after a study found the risk of dying from coronavirus increases significantly depending on your age, with those over 65 over 18,000 times more likely to die than those under 20.

Epidemiologists from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied data from Geneva, Switzerland to calculate the likelihood of dying from Covid-19.

For those aged 10 to 20 the risk of dying from a coronavirus infection is three in a million but for those over 65 it goes up to about 60,000 in a million, figures show. 

The team say that as Geneva has an ‘effective health care system’ that was able to cope with the surge in demand from Covid-19 their figures are a ‘best care scenario’.

They said their findings suggest doctors, specialists and governments should work on an age specific approach to treating the virus and its spread. 

OVER-65S ARE ‘18,000 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DIE FROM COVID-19 THAN UNDER-20S’ 

The risk of dying from coronavirus increases significantly depending on your age, with those over 65 over 18,000 times more likely to die than those under 20.

Epidemiologists from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied data from Geneva, Switzerland to calculate the likelihood of dying from Covid-19.

For those aged 10 to 20 the risk of dying from a coronavirus infection is three in a million but for those over 65 it goes up to about 60,000 in a million, figures show. 

The team say that as Geneva has an ‘effective health care system’ that was able to cope with the surge in demand from Covid-19 their figures are a ‘best care scenario’.

They said their findings suggest doctors, specialists and governments should work on an age specific approach to treating the virus and its spread. 

  • Age 5-9: 0.002 per cent
  • Age 10-19: 0.0003 per cent
  • Age 20-49: 0.009 per cent
  • Age 50-64: 0.14 per cent
  • Age 65+: 5.6 per cent

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk