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Who should worry most about COVID-19?

I am an actuary with more than 50 years experience in the life insurance industry, including researching mortality rates in Canada. I have done some analysis of death rates from COVID-19 and make some suggestions below.

[Summary] Seniors and people with some chronic medical conditions are at high risk from COVID-19, and should stay away from crowds. In Prince Edward County, this includes hockey playoffs and Maple in the County.

There are two groups of people who should worry most about the possibility of dying if they are infected with COVID-19:
* Seniors, with death rates ranging from 5% to 15% in the age range 65 to 80+. Seniors account for 30% of the County’s population.
* People with particular chronic medical conditions: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, COPD, hypertension and cancer — death rates ranging from 6% to 11% depending on condition.

This means that anywhere from 1 in 20 to 1 in 7 people in these groups will die if they contract Coronavirus. Compare these very high rates to an annual death rate of 1% (1 in 100) for someone in the age range 65 to 69 (before Covid-19).

People under age 50 don’t have to worry much about dying from COVID-19, as rates are a fraction of 1%. People between 50 and 64 should be somewhat cautious. And all need to be concerned about passing the virus on to older people.

The media have reported overall death rates from COVID-19 in the range of 2% to 3.4%. However, these are averages across all ages. In the groups being focused on here, the rates range from 5% to 15%.

Here’s the key message of this article. For seniors and people with the chronic conditions mentioned, a good way to reduce risk is simple: stay away from crowds. Here in the County, this means shopping during less busy hours and (sadly) no Dukes or Pirates hockey games and no Maple in the County. There’s always next year.

Note: My data comes from two authoritative websites: Worldometers and Statistics Canada, specifically web pages and The data at Worldometers is subject to change as more data is obtained and more analysis is done.

Gary Mooney
Prince Edward County

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Angela says:

    Thanks for telling us who should worry but beyond making certain there is some additional food in the house, washing our hands often and staying at home what can we do, Gary? Is worry going to help? Better to take positive action as best we can. It just adds to the panic to remind seniors that a lot of them are likely to die. Heaven has no favourites and seniors are not the only ones at risk.

  2. Barbara Wallace says:

    Thanks Gary, very helpful. That put it into perspective for me.

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