The COVID-19 outbreak has put the spotlight on several country-specific health indicators. The article looks at how India stands on pre-existing health conditions, age, and healthcare capacity.

More about the news:

  • Early research from Italy and China suggests that COVID-19 patients who died in those countries were more likely to have had pre-existing health conditions, namely diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular diseases. 
  • While experts have not yet finally concluded how exactly country-wide indicators interact with the spread of the outbreak, one factor may be these underlying diseases.

Pre-existing health conditions in India in comparison to six affected countries

  • Cardiovascular diseases:

    • In comparison to six of the countries significantly affected by the outbreak — China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States — India has a higher burden of cardiovascular diseases than four of these countries, but lower than China and the US. 

The Global Burden of Disease data,Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs):

  • India’s cardiovascular disease burden in 2017 was 4,716 DALYs per 100,000 population, way behind China (6,020) and close to the US (4,814). India is followed by Italy (4.350), UK (4,005), and Iran (3,911). 
  • South Korea has a very low burden with cardiovascular diseases, at 2,340 DALYs per 100,000 population. 
  • It was also one of the countries to experience heavy contraction of COVID-19 but not as many deaths as in the other hardest hit countries.
  • Diabetes and kidney disease:India has a higher burden than Italy, China, and the UK, but lower than Iran, South Korea, and the US.

The Global Burden of Disease data,Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs):

  • For diabetes and kidney disease, India was at 1,340 DALYs per 100,000 in 2017. 
  • Countries with a higher burden are the US (1,779), South Korea (1,447), and Iran (1,356), while Italy (1,266), China (1,068), and the UK (913) have a lower burden than India.

Are mortality rates associated with higher age?

  • There is varying research about the age distribution of those hospitalised for COVID-19. 
  • Italy:According to the research the mean age of patients who died due to COVID-19 in Italy was 81 years. 
  • China:Of 1,590 hospitalised patients from across China, the mean age was 48.9 years.
  • US:In the US,it was found that fatalities were highest amongst those above 85 (10 to 27 per cent).

Demographic characteristics of affected countries

  • Six per cent of India’s population is above 65 and more than a quarter is 14 or below. 
  • India’s under-14 population is higher than the other six corona affected countries, World Bank data show.
  • Italy (23%), UK (18.5%), and US (15.4%) have a high population share of the eldest category. South Korea (13.9%) and China (10.6%) too have heavier elderly populations than India.

Healthcare capacity of India compared to other affected countries

  • Hospital beds:

    • The World Health Organization tracks country-wise data on hospital beds per 10,000 people. 
    • India stands at the lowest among the seven countries, at seven. Iran has 15, UK 28, US 29, Italy 34, China 42, South Korea 143.
  • Isolation and quarantine beds:

    • According to the Ministry of Health,there are currently 15,980 isolation beds and 37,326 quarantine beds available in India
    • In other words, there is one isolation bed for every 84,000 Indians , and one quarantine bed for every 36,000 Indians.

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Image Source:IE