COVID-19 in unequally ageing European regions

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The map presented in this brief note summarizes regional differences in population age structures between the NUTS-3 regions of Europe in the context of unequal age- and sex-specific death risks associated with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since older people are exposed to much higher death risks, older populations are expected to face much more difficult challenges coping with the pandemic. The urban/rural dimension turns out to be very important as the remote rural areas are also the oldest. In the map NUTS-3 regions of Europe are colored according to the deviation from European pooled estimate of the proportion of population at risk of death due to COVID-19. We assume that 5/6 of the populations get infected and experience age-specific infection-fatality ratios (IFRs) modelled by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team. We adjust IFRs by sex ratios of age-specific case-fatality ratios observed in the European countries that are included in the COVerAGE-DB. Thus, we effectively introduce a summary measure of population age structures focused on the most vulnerable to the pandemic. Such an estimate for the total European population is 1%. The map reflects the unequal population age structures rather than the precise figures on COVID-19 fatality. It is a case-if scenario that highlights the possible effect of the population age structures, a demographic perspective. This analysis clearly shows the contribution of regional differences in population age structures to the magnitude of the pandemic – other things equal, we expect to see a four-fold variation in average regional infection-fatality ratios across Europe due only to differences in the population structures.

TidsskriftWorld Development
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2020


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