Data from China shows the majority of people with Covid-19 only suffer mild symptoms, then recover

As the number of novel coronavirus cases slows to a trickle within China but continues to soar outside, Chinese authorities are stepping up measures to prevent a surge in cross-border infections. CNN's David Culver reports.

Posted: Mar 20, 2020 12:20 PM
Updated: Mar 20, 2020 12:20 PM

Most people who contract the novel coronavirus experience mild symptoms, according to data from China, where the worst of the epidemic now appears to be over.

Last month, scientists from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention published a research paper analyzing the data for the first 72,314 people diagnosed with Covid-19.

Epidemiologists say it will take a long time to fully understand the mechanics of the coronavirus outbreak, but the information published by the Chinese scientists may give some insight into those most vulnerable to the virus.

The data shows that men and women have roughly the same chance of contracting the virus. When the scientists looked at 44,672 patients confirmed to have the disease, they found there were 106 diagnosed men per 100 women.

However, the impact on men appears to be worse, at least among those who were part of this initial study. While 2.8% of the men diagnosed with the disease died, only 1.7% of women did.

The researchers also looked at how severe the illness was for those who were diagnosed. The good news: more than 80% experienced only mild symptoms. Almost 14% were classed as severe cases, while the condition of almost 5% was determined to be critical.

But even though a minority of cases are severe and critical, the sheer scale of the pandemic means healthcare systems in many countries are starting to crumble. The northern Italian city of Bergamo has been hit so hard by coronavirus that it is sending patients who need intensive care to other parts of the country.

Separately, researchers have also found that children in China showed less severe symptoms than adults.

A study published online in the medical journal Pediatrics on Monday examined 731 confirmed and 1,412 suspected cases of Covid-19 in children.

More than 90% of all pediatric patients were asymptomatic, showing mild or common forms of illness.

About 13% of patients who tested positive for the virus did not show symptoms of illness. Out of the combined 2,143 cases, one child, a 14-year-old boy, died and nearly 6% of cases were severe.

Researchers remain unsure why children with Covid-19 were not as ill as adults.

Epidemiologists say the recovery rates for Covid-19 won't be clear until the outbreak is over and they can look at complete data sets.

However, the figures from China give some indication that most people do recover from the illness.

In a situation report published on Thursday, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that of the 80,928 confirmed cases in mainland China, 70,420 people have been "cured and discharged from hospital," while 3,245 have died. The rest are still ill.

The early Chinese data also appears to show that the older the patient, the more risk they face from the virus.

While most of the recorded cases involved people between the ages of 30 and 69, the fatality rate increased as the patients' ages went up.

According to the paper, among people aged 49 or younger, only about 0.2% of those who contracted the disease died, compared to 14.8% of those who were 80 and older.

Latest data from Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, shows a similar pattern. According to the Italian National Health Institute, the median average age of those who died after contracting the virus in Italy is 80.5 years old, while the median average for those infected is 63, the report says.

Breaking down the Italian numbers by gender, women only make up 30% of the total dead and their median average age at the time of death is higher than men, at 83.6 years old.

However, health officials in France have found that half of all coronavirus patients currently in intensive care across the country were under the age of 60, sparking what Public Health France has called a "new dynamic" in the Covid-19 outbreak.

"We are in a fairly strong dynamic, which shows that not only is the number of cases increasing but that this infection is leading to serious cases...and to a younger group of people," Geneviève Chêne, General Director of Public Health France, said during a radio interview on Thursday.

Details on those cases -- including whether patients had pre-existing conditions -- were not immediately available.

Experts have warned that even though younger people may only experience mild symptoms of Covid-19, they still need to take the risk seriously. If infected, they can spread the disease to more vulnerable people even if they themselves don't feel ill.

Underlying health issues were also a major factor, according to the Chinese researchers. People who suffered from chronic diseases before contracting the virus were more likely to die, the data suggests.

The Italian government also found that most people who died of the virus had two or three existing health conditions before being infected with the coronavirus. Among those, high blood pressure was the most common, followed by heart problems and diabetes.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 601937

Reported Deaths: 9593
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion831111322
Lake44972678
Allen32498545
Hamilton29039315
St. Joseph27133380
Elkhart24291343
Vanderburgh19160246
Tippecanoe17799130
Johnson14871292
Porter14631167
Hendricks14188247
Madison10851219
Vigo10636178
Clark10520137
Monroe9299110
Delaware9055134
LaPorte8972160
Howard8134142
Kosciusko800382
Warrick665197
Hancock6575103
Bartholomew637999
Floyd6322109
Wayne6076161
Grant5937113
Dubois552578
Boone544967
Morgan530594
Henry503464
Marshall499884
Cass478663
Dearborn470745
Noble468357
Jackson420747
Shelby410781
Lawrence387478
Clinton370642
Gibson365559
DeKalb344264
Montgomery340754
Harrison340544
Knox333139
Miami317344
Steuben311545
Whitley301725
Wabash299747
Adams299035
Ripley296545
Putnam292049
Huntington288659
Jasper287634
White270340
Daviess266073
Jefferson257938
Fayette245148
Decatur244883
Greene238162
Posey236927
Wells233350
LaGrange226361
Scott221838
Clay220932
Randolph212148
Jennings195836
Sullivan190833
Spencer188019
Fountain182127
Washington182022
Starke174443
Jay166322
Owen162837
Fulton162330
Orange156333
Carroll155415
Rush153318
Perry151227
Vermillion147334
Franklin146933
Tipton130932
Parke13018
Pike115626
Blackford110522
Pulaski96137
Newton90521
Brown86833
Benton85910
Crawford7839
Martin72313
Warren6757
Switzerland6455
Union6227
Ohio4787
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 849704

Reported Deaths: 10518
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin100046706
Cuyahoga845231068
Hamilton63092447
Montgomery42660405
Summit34405754
Lucas31041611
Butler30546229
Stark25443429
Warren19436140
Lorain18767223
Mahoning17163337
Lake15882153
Clermont15697110
Delaware1422678
Licking13067137
Trumbull12680313
Fairfield1262180
Greene11915136
Medina11439167
Clark10802265
Wood10230158
Allen9774126
Portage9163107
Miami907373
Richland9035117
Marion7420113
Tuscarawas7280179
Columbiana7263124
Pickaway719550
Wayne6954169
Muskingum690741
Erie6090127
Hancock547590
Ross543487
Scioto533664
Geauga501155
Darke465591
Ashtabula449373
Lawrence447053
Union444928
Sandusky433062
Mercer432088
Huron423541
Seneca423465
Auglaize419662
Shelby419421
Jefferson415469
Belmont411240
Washington383340
Athens37379
Putnam372674
Madison349929
Knox347922
Ashland342538
Fulton335243
Defiance327782
Crawford319472
Preble318437
Brown307121
Logan304132
Ottawa289243
Clinton286643
Williams275866
Highland271818
Jackson261345
Guernsey249825
Champaign249328
Fayette234429
Morrow23014
Perry228318
Holmes222864
Henry216849
Hardin210133
Coshocton203521
Van Wert200545
Gallia194726
Wyandot193851
Pike172417
Adams172015
Hocking169824
Carroll153216
Paulding143221
Noble119940
Meigs106823
Monroe100331
Harrison87821
Morgan82229
Vinton68913
Unassigned00
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