US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Italian researchers and Gianluca Rinaldi Matteo Paradisi posted in preprint archive medRxiv article about the largest and most detailed study of deaths from the coronavirus in the first 40 days of the pandemic in Italy. The study was conducted in a part of Lombardy, an administrative region of the country that was severely affected by coronavirus.
The study area covered 10 settlements with a total population of about 50 thousand people.
Paradisi and Rinaldi did not use official mortality statistics in their work, as in many cases it turns out to be incomplete or distorted. Instead, scientists used SARS-CoV-2 testing statistics. It is the data from the results of mass analyzes that make it possible to more accurately assess the magnitude of the pandemic and the real mortality of the pathogen.
The area under study was the epicenter of the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak throughout Italy. On February 21, the borders of this region were completely blocked and strict quarantine was introduced in all ten towns. It is this date that Paradisi and Rinaldi took as the starting point when taking into account the information.
After collecting data on the mortality and age and sex distribution of deaths in the region from late February to April 4, researchers compared this information with similar statistics for the same period in the previous five years. It turned out that in 2020, over these 40 days five times more people died than usual: 341 people against 70 on average. Moreover, at the very beginning of April, excess mortality was practically not observed.
Then, statistics on the results of blood tests that were carried out in the region after the removal of strict restrictive measures were analyzed. The degree of virus infection in the study area was about 40%, while in some settlements it reached 80%. Based on these data, Paradisi and Rinaldi found that the mortality rate of coronavirus is 1.29%. Moreover, in the group of people over 60 years of age, the parameter is 4.25%.
Interestingly, this indicator almost coincided with the mortality rate calculated for one of the first centers of the Soviet-19 in the world – the cruise ship Diamond Princess (1.3%). But in that case, the researchers were dealing with a relatively small sample (about three thousand tested, 712 infected and 13 deaths). In addition, among the passengers of the liner there were a large number of elderly.
Recalculation based on data from Diamond Princess for the population of China showed that the estimated mortality rate for this country was 0.6%. The results of a new study show that this number is twice as large. Of course, it is worth considering the fact that the population of Italy is one of the “oldest” in the world. However, on average for all countries, coronavirus in a bad scenario can take the lives of about 1% of citizens.
Statistics also show that hard quarantine is the main effective pandemic prevention measure. The farther from the Italian epicenter, the lower (with separate exceptions) were infection rates and deaths. However, due to the same measures, the collective immunity was not formed in the population; many of those who did not get sick during the current outbreak can catch the coronavirus during the next pandemic. So the total number of deaths from Covid-19 will depend on how soon they create an effective vaccine or find effective drugs against the virus.
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