Like many diseases, COVID-19 can be lethal. Americans need to respect COVID’s power, while also understanding what we actually know about COVID’s lethality and how selectively it affects different age groups.

 

The tables below reflect by age bracket 1) the percentage of COVID infections leading to intensive care unit hospitalization (ICU Admission Rate), 2) the percentage of COVID infections proving fatal (Infection Fatality Rate), and 3) a person’s normal odds of dying within a year based purely on their age (e.g. their odds of dying this year if COVID-19 never existed).

The important context here is

  • The risk of dying from a COVID infection is significantly smaller than the risk of dying from non-COVID causes. This appears true almost universally across age groups. We do not normally walk around in constant fear of our much higher probability of dying from causes unrelated to COVID.
  • The risk of death from COVID is particularly concentrated in our elderly. According to the CDC, for those aged 0-49 the infection fatality rate is 0.037%, or said differently, the odds of surviving a COVID infection are 99.963%! This is generally consistent with serology studies across the globe that keep coming out, but don’t receive much media attention.

These tables are based purely on age bracket. For those without co-morbidities, the probability of dying from COVID would be even smaller than what’s shown below. It’s also important to remember these probabilities are improving significantly as treatment regimens improve. The data below from Spain and the Netherlands was largely built in the early days of fighting COVID. Medical professionals continue to learn and develop more effective treatment protocols.

 

US CDC (1)

 

This table reflects the CDC’s current best estimates for pandemic planning scenarios.

Age Bracket COVID ICU Admission Rate % COVID Infection Fatality Rate % Non-COVID odds of dying within a year
0-49 0.28% 0.04% 0.13%
50-64 0.97% 0.15% 0.76%
65+ 1.47% 0.96% 4.86%

 

Spain (2)

 

This table reflects the results of the Spanish governments’ serology study, population profile, and known COVID outcomes.

Age Bracket COVID ICU Admission Rate % COVID Infection Fatality Rate % Non-COVID odds of dying within a year
0-9 0.02% 0.00% 0.07%
10-19 0.00% 0.02% 0.03%
20-29 0.03% 0.02% 0.11%
30-39 0.07% 0.02% 0.16%
40-49 0.11% 0.04% 0.27%
50-59 0.23% 0.12% 0.61%
60-69 0.51% 0.47% 1.29%
70-79 0.58% 1.67% 3.03%
80-89 0.13% 5.17% 8.58%
90+ 0.05% 7.55% 23.12%

 

Netherlands (3)

 

This table reflects the results of the Dutch governments’ serology study, population profile, and known COVID outcomes.

Age Bracket COVID ICU Admission Rate % COVID Infection Fatality Rate % Non-COVID odds of dying within a year
0-19 0.02% 0.00% 0.05%
20-29 0.03% 0.00% 0.11%
30-39 0.06% 0.01% 0.16%
40-49 0.18% 0.02% 0.27%
50-54 0.39% 0.06% 0.49%
55-59 0.69% 0.15% 0.74%
60-64 0.99% 0.29% 1.06%
65-69 1.37% 0.76% 1.51%
70-74 1.82% 1.67% 2.43%
75-79 1.70% 4.43% 3.97%
80-84 0.50% 7.84% 6.71%

 

Sources