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Age Specificity of Infection Fatality Rates for COVID-19

The overall Covid19 Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) for a given location is intrinsically linked to the age-specific pattern of infections.

A new NBER working paper by Levin, Cochran and Walsh reviews different seroprevalence studies in the literature and data from various countries (including Sweden). They conclude that the estimated IFR is close to zero for children and younger adults but rises exponentially with age, reaching about 0.3 percent for ages 50-59, 1.3 percent for ages 60-69, 4.6 percent for ages 70-79, and 25 percent for ages 80 and above. COVID-19 is not just dangerous for the elderly and infirm but also for healthy middle-aged adults, for whom the fatality rate is more than 50 times greater than the risk of dying in an automobile accident. Consequently, the meta-analysis clearly underscores the rationale for public health measures and communications aimed at reducing the aggregate IFR by mitigating the incidence of new COVID-19 infections among middle-aged and older adults, not strictly limited to so called risk groups.

Link to the paper here.

Paola Di Casola*

Sveriges Riksbank

Posted by Maria Perrotta Berlin,



*The opinions expressed in this post are the sole responsibility of the author and should not be interpreted as reflecting the views of Sveriges Riksbank.


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