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COVID-19 Also Hazardous for Middle-Aged Adults

TUESDAY, Jan. 26, 2021 -- COVID-19 is dangerous for middle-aged adults, with an estimated age-specific infection fatality rate (IFR) of 0.4 and 1.4 percent at ages 55 and 65 years, respectively, according to a review published online Dec. 8 in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

Andrew T. Levin, Ph.D., from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 27 studies covering 34 geographic locations to examine age-specific IFRs for COVID-19.

The researchers identified an exponential relationship between age and IFR for COVID-19. For children and younger adults, the estimated age-specific IFR was very low (for example, 0.002 percent at age 10 years; 0.01 percent at age 25 years), but it increased progressively to 0.4, 1.4, 4.6, and 15 percent at ages 55, 65, 75, and 85 years, respectively. About 90 percent of the variation in population IFR across geographic regions reflected differences in the age composition of the population and the extent of exposure to the virus for vulnerable age groups.

"For a person who is middle-aged, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is about 100 times greater than dying from an automobile accident," Levin said in a statement. "Generally speaking, very few children and young adults die of COVID-19. However, the risk is progressively greater for middle-aged and older adults."

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