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Coronavirus: the age difference behind lower Swiss death rate

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Switzerland’s Covid-19 death rate has been lower than much of the rest of Europe. A lower infection rate among older people appears to be one reason.

The rates of deaths among those either recovering or dying have been particularly high in Belgium (40%), France (34%) and Italy (31%). In other countries such as Austria (4%), Germany (5%) and Switzerland (7%) they have been much lower.

There are many reasons for variations in these death rates. Among them is case counting. More extensive testing typically captures more healthy cases that recover, bringing down the overall death rate.

However, another reason is differences in the number infected across different age groups. The elderly are more likely to die from Covid-19, so if more of them catch it, the overall death rate will be higher.

In Switzerland, 35% of Covid-19 cases were found in people 60 or over. In Germany and Austria the rate was around 30%, similar to Switzerland. However, the percentage of Covid-19 cases among those 60 or over was more than 40% in France and more than 50% in both Belgium and Italy, 15 percentage points higher than in Switzerland and 20 percentage points higher than in Austria and Germany.

The percentage of the total population 60 or above across all these countries is broadly similar. Switzerland (25%), Austria (25%) and Belgium (25%) have slightly lower percentages than France (26%), Germany (28%) and Italy (29%), but the differences are relatively small.

This suggests that the spread of the disease to and among people over 60 has been significantly higher in France, Belgium and Italy. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, a smaller percentage of those 60 and over have been infected. This is likely to explain at least some of the difference in overall death rates between these countries.

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About Le News
Le News
The newspaper Le News is a free, quality, local English language newspaper launched on 31 October 2013. Le News fills a gap in local Swiss media for the numerous English-speakers living and visiting Switzerland. In late January 2015 we decided to put our print medium on hold and focus on our digital media presence.
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