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These charts show who is most vulnerable to COVID-19

Popular Science logo Popular Science 5/3/2020 Sara Chodosh
a close up of a street: Remember: you only need to wear a face mask if you're sick © Unsplash Remember: you only need to wear a face mask if you're sick

Follow all of PopSci’s COVID-19 coverage here, including travel advice, pregnancy concerns, and the latest findings on the virus itself.

a close up of text on a white background: Most recent data available as of March 5, 2020 © Infographic by Sara Chodosh Most recent data available as of March 5, 2020

It took 30 days for COVID-19 to spread from a single province in China to the entire country. The virus is now spreading to dozens of other nations around the world, and the rate of growth has a lot of folks worried. It’s only making matters worse that there’s a lack of good data on this new disease—people have questions, and often public health officials don’t yet have the answers.

Our best source of information right now is China, the disease likely originated there, it still has had the most cases, and thus likely the best data. Looking to them could provide a glimpse of what might be in store for the rest of the world.

China’s Center for Disease Control (CCDC) published an analysis of the 72,314 cases they’d seen as of February 11, including 44,672 confirmed cases. It’s the most up-to-date, thorough information we have at this point, so it’s worth looking at how these COVID-19 cases have broken down.

It’s definitely not a disease of the young.

Only about 10 percent of cases are in people under 30, and just two percent are under 20. Meanwhile, adults 30 to 69 make up three-quarters of the cases. Part of this could be China’s demographics—nearly 60 percent of the country is between 25 and 64—but officials have been noting that adults and older folks seem far more susceptible than children. And when it comes to fatalities, the elderly are suffering the most.

Though people aged 70 and over make up just 12 percent of the cases, they account for 50 percent of the deaths. Another 30 percent of fatalities are in the next lowest age group, 60-69.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Most recent data available as of March 5, 2020 © Infographic by Sara Chodosh Most recent data available as of March 5, 2020

The fatality rates follow a pretty clear trend: The highest is people aged 80 and up, of which 14.8 percent die from COVID-19. Eight percent of those 70-79 succumb to it, 3.5 percent of 60-69 year olds, and 1.3 percent of those 50-59. Below 50 and the fatality rate is below one percent. There were just 8 deaths total in people under 30, despite more than 4500 cases.

COVID-19 also doesn’t seem to impact men and women exactly the same. Roughly equal numbers of them get sick in the first place, but almost two-thirds of deaths have been among men.

Some experts think this may be an artifact of China itself. Many more men than women smoke there, and because smokers are more likely to have cardiovascular and lung disease it’s possible these other conditions are exacerbating COVID-19, making the patients more likely to die. But no one is quite sure yet.

What is clear is that the vast majority of cases so far have been mild—more than 80 percent, in fact.

Another 14 percent have been severe, and less than five percent were critical. All of the 1,023 deaths in this analysis were from people whose disease was deemed critical.

The big question that remains unanswered is how similar these results will be to the rest of the world. China offers the most answers right now, but they’re not necessarily representative of the rest of the world. The World Health Organization's assistant director general Bruce Aylward recently told Vox that he wouldn’t expect the low death rate in China of 2.4 percent to extrapolate to the rest of the world. The medical system there acted fast and were able to provide high quality care to tens of thousands of people at once—other countries don’t have that advantage, and higher proportions of patients may die elsewhere. And indeed, the WHO recently announced that the global death rate is now 3.4 percent.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Most recent data available as of March 5, 2020 © Infographic by Sara Chodosh Most recent data available as of March 5, 2020

None of this is cause to panic, but it is a reason to take all the precautions you can. Wash your hands frequently—more than you think you need to—and if you’re in an outbreak area try to avoid gatherings whenever you can. Stay home if you’re feeling ill. Try not to touch your face, or at least wash your hands after touching surfaces in public spaces. So while its justified and normal to feel alarmed by this, rest assured that your risk of getting COVID-19 is still very low in most places.

More on MSN News:

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Also on MSN: 

The mistakes that caused the spread of COVID-19

(Content provided by Business Insider)

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