The Age of COVID (May update)

After seeing a decline in the average Age of COVID in Canada in April, I predicted that this decline would soon plateau, and rise back up to its original level. Why?

By the end of May, 2021, Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination program had at least partially inoculated over 90% of people over 70 years old, leading to a relative increase in younger patients. However, Canada is also the first country in the world to approve vaccinations for children as young as 12 years old, and is one of the fastest vaccinating nations on Earth, so all other age groups are quickly catching up.

As such, I expect the playing field to even out shortly – with all age groups equally vaccinated, the average age of patients should again reflect the disproportional impact to older populations, while overall case numbers decline. This may not be apparent in the data immediately, as low case numbers also increase the variability of average age data.

To visualize this trend using a timeline, the latest official data was downloaded from PHAC on 2021-06-11. These trend lines are weekly averages of deaths and age group in Canada:

The average age of COVID mortality in Canada is down about 5 years in 2021 – from approximately 82 to 77 – and appears to have plateaued in May. Some notes about the source data:

  • Only age group is reported, so average age is approximate.
  • Variability is evident in the summer of 2020 due to low numbers.
  • Only weekly data is available, and only up to the end of May.

PHAC also reports ICU and hospitalization data, so let’s compare this to mortality. Again, these trend lines are weekly averages in Canada, with the same limitations as before:

The change in ICU and hospitalization in 2021 is closer to 10 years, with average age down from around 68 to 58 years old, and again, appears to have plateaued in May.

Breaking the results down by age group highlights the relative changes involved in this trend. This is PHAC’s hospitalization data broken down by age group:

The 80+ age group has by far the largest share of hospitalized patients in 2020, despite being a smaller population than younger age groups. However, this is no longer the case in 2021. Younger age groups are consequently seeing a significant increase in representation on a relative basis. However, variability is high, so May’s trend is unclear.

A more up to date sample of mortality case data can be browsed on Esri Canada’s database.

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