Coronavirus less deadly in Germany because of youthful patients

first_imgThe virus has infected more than 350,000 people and killed more than 16,000 around the world since it emerged in China late last year. About a third of those deaths have been in Italy, where some hospitals are overwhelmed. There have been reports of doctors forced to triage patients and ration equipment to save those most likely to live.Health authorities still don’t know exactly how the virus entered Italy, but once there it easily infiltrated the high-risk older generation. To a degree uncommon in most other parts of Europe, Italian adults are in frequent contact with their parents. The “nonna” and “nonno” provide childcare and standing Sunday lunch dates, and they often live in the same city — or even closer.More than 20% of Italians between the ages of 30 and 49 live with their parents, according to Bonn University economists Christian Bayer and Moritz Kuhn. That’s more than double the rate for Germans in that age bracket. Bayer and Moritz have found a correlation between generations living under one roof and case fatality for coronavirus.‘Social network’“Why are so many elderly in some countries getting infected whereas in other countries they don’t?” Bayer said. “The social network is a natural explanation.”While other factors are certainly influencing fatality rates, Bayer said his analysis appears to bear out thus far for most of Europe and the U.S. Countries where multigenerational living is common — including Greece, Bulgaria, Poland and Serbia — should move swiftly to protect the elderly, he said.In Germany, many early cases were in young and healthy people who had just been to ski resorts where the virus was circulating, often in northern Italy or neighboring Austria. The majority of cases have been in people who are 35 to 59 years of age. The average age of those killed by the disease was 82, the Robert Koch Institute’s Wieler said on Monday.Thanks to a “very aggressive testing process” in Germany, more of the mild cases are probably being included in the total numbers, said Michael Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program. Ryan predicted that mortality rates will evolve in coming weeks, as patients die in the hospital three to four weeks after being diagnosed.Italian authorities have pushed back against the idea that the country’s mortality rate is due to the strain on hospitals overrun by new patients, especially in hard-hit regions such as Lombardy. Areas like Veneto, around Venice, have tested more extensively and have lower mortality rates.Italy’s tollEmergency chief Angelo Borrelli said Friday that the Italian death toll may be skewed higher by an expansive definition of coronavirus deaths, with anyone who tested positive being included, regardless of any other conditions from which they suffered. But Germany’s Koch Institute says it’s following a similar procedure.“The real risk is the geriatric age and also concurring illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes,” said Roberto Bernabei, geriatrics professor at Catholic University in Rome. “These lead to a greater aggressiveness from the virus.”Just 2.7% of confirmed infections in Germany are in people over the age of 80, the Koch Institute said on Monday. That compares with 18% of cases in Italy.For now, children should visit their grandparents online instead of in person, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week. She suggested Skype, telephone calls and emails, or “maybe writing letters again.” Topics : As the coronavirus death toll surges across much of Europe, one country remains an anomaly.Despite more than 25,000 infections, the fifth-most in the world, Germany’s mortality rate is only 0.4%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from state health authorities. At the virus’s epicenter in Italy, by contrast, some 9.5% of people confirmed to have the infection have died.There may be many reasons for the disparity, but they all boil down to one thing: Covid-19 has not yet hit as hard among the oldest and frailest members of Germany’s population. Authorities are testing and tracking mild cases aggressively, and more than 80% of those confirmed are in people under the age of 60. In Italy, despite similar demographics, the picture is vastly different, with the virus disproportionately striking the old.center_img Taken together, the two countries are an object lesson for why public health authorities around the world are sealing off nursing homes and asking families not to visit elderly parents or grandparents. Once the virus spreads into an older population, as Italy shows, it can overwhelm health systems and become more deadly for everyone.In Italy, 74% of those who’ve tested positive are over 50. In Germany, 82% of cases are people under 60. The prospect that the outbreak may shift to older people has German health officials worried, too.“We are only at the beginning of the epidemic,” said Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health authority.16,000 deathslast_img read more

Poll shows Proposition 23 losing support in California

first_imgA recent Field Poll has shown that California’s Proposition 23 is losing support in the polls.Proposition 23 would suspend the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act — AB 32 — until California unemployment is down to 5.5 percent.The latest polls show 45 percent of voters oppose the proposition, with only 34 supporting it.The proposition was introduced by Texas oil giants Valero and Tesoro, along with a refinery owned by billionaires Charles and David Koch. It would suspend the state law that requires greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to levels they were at in 1990 by the year 2020.The proposition has found little support in California. Democrats are overwhelmingly against it and Republicans seem divided on the issue.Though Republican Carly Fiorina has voiced her support for Proposition 23, Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has said she opposes it, preferring a one-year moratorium instead of completely doing away with the clean energy bill.“Climate change is going to get worse fast,” said Mark Bernstein, managing director of the USC Energy Institute. “[Students] are young enough to see that. If Prop 23 passes, in the near-term, there’ll be less opportunities for doing things that are green.”Bernstein added that green technology is the only job industry currently expanding in the state.“Where are the jobs going to be when you guys graduate? The only sector that is growing is green technologies,” Bernstein said. “That’s where the jobs are. And it’s only there because the government is putting it in place.”Campus activist groups also oppose the proposition and protested at Valero gas stations across the state.“Clean energy is our future,” said Ryan Waters, campaign coordinator of the No On Prop 23 CALPIRG chapter at USC. “We need to do everything we can to make sure California is a leader in clean energy and clean technology.”Proponents of Proposition 23 say it will cost money to implement AB 32, which is set to start in 2012.According to arguments made in favor of the proposition in the California Voter Guide, “AB 32 will cause California households to face higher prices both directly for electricity, natural gas and gasoline, and indirectly as businesses pass costs for [greenhouse gas] reduction on to consumers.”But Bernstein said the long-term costs are nothing compared to the ultimate benefits of AB 32.“Will it cost us? In the long-term, maybe,” Bernstein said. “But by the time we get out there, technology will improve and it probably won’t cost us anything. The benefits in the near-term significantly outweigh the costs.”Micah Scheindlin, political director of USC College Democrats, agreed.“Their arguments regarding revenue are wholly wrong,” Scheindlin said. “If anything, passing Proposition 23 would stunt the growth of California’s green tech economy and therefore cost the state revenue.”The proposition’s opponents include The League of Women’s Voters and liberal college groups including California College Democrats.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also opposes the proposition, having originally signed AB 32 into legislation in 2006.“The effort to suspend AB 32 is the work of greedy oil companies who want to keep polluting in our state and making profits,” Schwarzenegger said after the measure qualified for the November ballot.Two advocacy groups, the Courage Campaign and CREDO Action, have called for a boycott of Valero and Beacon gas stations in order to punish Valero for providing financial sponsorship of the initiative.In the end, Bernstein said, students’ futures are in their hands.“[AB 32] is not overcoming the jobless rate yet, but it’s getting there,” Bernstein said. “I really want the students to get out and vote.”last_img read more