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PM Khan thinks elderly more at risk from coronavirus

Here’s what the data says

SAMAA | and - Posted: Apr 11, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
Posted: Apr 11, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago

Artwork:: SAMAA Digital

Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly said that older Pakistanis are at the highest risk of being infected by Covid-19. Now that the Sindh government has shared its age-wise distribution of cases, we can weigh up the claim. 

Let us define the elderly as people above 60 years of age. 

At first glance, the Sindh government’s data seems to completely agree with PM Khan’s claim. The single most affected age group seems to be people 60 years or older. 

However, the second most affected category is people between 20 and 29 years of age and that too by a very thin margin of 3 cases. The third most affected category, again by a small margin, is people between 30 and 39 years of age. This denies us the possibility of creating a clear link between age and risk of infection.  See the graph for details.

The numbers show us that all three of these age categories are in close competition. But to really see who is at the highest risk, the rate of infection needs to be measured against the relative size of each age group in the population. The Sindh government’s report shows that data as well.

Age Group Proportion Population  No. of Cases Attack Rate
0-9 years 27.9% 13,360,208 62 0.46%
10-19 years 24.17% 11,574,059 87 0.75%
20-29 years 16.32% 7,810,215 239 3.06%
30-39 years 11.46% 5,487,741 231 4.21%
40-49 years 9.06% 4,338,476 180 4.15%
50-59 years 5.85% 2,801,334 145 5.18%
60 & above 5.25% 2514018 242 9.62%
Total  47,886,051 1,186 2.48%

The attack rate or risk of infection for people over 60 is highest of all. More than nine out of every 100,000 elderly people are at risk of being infected. If you change the threshold to 70 years of age, the risk doubles: 17 out of every 100,000 people can get Covid-19. When viewed from the attack rate perspective, a clear pattern emerges. The older you are, the higher chance there is of your contracting Covid-19. This graph should make it clearer:

However, the goal of this article is not to declare any group safe from the pandemic. If we go by percentages, there is very little difference in the number of cases in those between 20 and 29 years of age and those above 60. The data also shows that children are also very vulnerable.

Despite having knowledge of the attack rate, we cannot say who is more likely to recover from coronavirus or succumb to it, unless age-wise data of recoveries and deaths is also made public by the government. 

Therefore, the only conclusion that can be treated as final is that the time for precaution is not over and everyone is at risk–elderly people, just a little more than the rest. 


The data used here was released by the Directorate General Health Services Sindh’s office. The graph below has been reproduced from the report. Other graphs and tables are based on the same data, but categories have been slightly adjusted to provide better analysis.  The data provided by the Sindh government contains a separate category for people above 70 years. Data for people between 60 and 69 years of age and above 70 years of age has been merged into a single category to make conclusions for this article. Here is the full graph.

It also needs to be noted that Sindh’s data includes the zaireen and Tableeghi Jamaat members in quarantine and that the attack rate has been calculated based on the population census of 2017, whose findings are available on the website of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics

Junaid Khatri contributed to this report.

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One Comment

  1. Ismail Khan  April 13, 2020 11:16 am/ Reply

    Khan you are absolutely right so wait for your turn.

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