At least half the people who have died in recent weeks from Covid-19 in the Netherlands had some kind of underlying condition. This is apparent from detailed information released by the country’s public health departments (GGDs) and hospitals. The National Health Department (RIVM) has made this public.
As of yesterday, a total of 213 people had died from this coronavirus in the Netherlands. At least 111 of them had underlying conditions. That meant that these people were already in poor health when they became infected with this novel strain of the coronavirus.
The most common disorders are cardiovascular diseases or high blood pressure. That applies to a quarter of the deaths, or 52 people.
“It is known that these conditions are associated with a higher risk of serious illness and death,” says virologist, Eric van Gorp, of Erasmus Medical Center. “A corona infection can lead to a serious lung infection. If you already have cardiovascular disease, the body has less reserve to endure this serious infection. We also see this with the flu.”
The other underlying diseases of the coronavirus victims are diabetes (30 deaths), chronic lung disease (24), kidney disease (13), malignancy or cancer (12), muscle disease (7) and liver disease (1). In 50 persons, the underlying disorder has been categorised as ‘other’.
The ‘other’ disorders weaken the functioning of a person’s immune system, says Van Gorp. “And then you are more susceptible to developing an infection.” In five per cent of the people who died from the coronavirus, there was no underlying disorder. In more than 40% of deceased people, it is unknown whether they had an underlying disorder.
The figures also show that approximately as many men as women get infected. Yet many more men die in the end: the male-female ratio is two-thirds male and one-third female. The age of the deceased is between 55 and 97, with an average age of 82.
According to Van Gorp, the differences might be explained by a difference in smoking behaviour. “Men smoke more often, which makes their lungs more sensitive and vulnerable. The difference in the number of cardiovascular diseases can also be an explanation. But whether this is also a reason for earlier death, needs further investigation”.
Data has also been published about the 1,230 people who were, or are, hospitalised with Covid-19. Of these, 17% are under the age of 55. None of them have died. Eight children up to the age of 10 have been admitted to hospital. There are four teenagers and 19 20+s too. Also, 30 people between the age of 30 and 40, and 73 40+s in hospital.
A quarter of the total number of 4,749 people who have tested positive so far have been hospitalised. The RIVM emphasises that the actual number of infections is higher because not everyone is being tested.
Editor: Melinda Walraven