5.5 million Filipinos over age 60 'most vulnerable' to coronavirus – study

BAGUIO, Philippines – About 5.5 million Filipinos aged 60 and above are most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, according to a research brief recently released by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI). 

The UPPI, in collaboration with the Demographic Research and Development Foundation, came out on Thursday, March 26, with a research brief titled "Beyond the Numbers: COVID-19 and the Philippine Population," which compared the demographics of the country and the COVID-19 positive cases. 

"Although the DOH (Department of Health) warns that the lack of nationwide testing may skew the data somewhat to the more severe cases, the age-sex distribution of local COVID-19 positive cases fits the profile of other countries, with the bulk of infections found among those in the older age groups," the study said. 

According to the study, 5.5 million Filipinos are most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, because aside from being among those aged 60 and above, they also have existing high-risk conditions. 

"Of the estimated 9.5 million Filipinos age 60 and above, 5.5 million have existing high-risk conditions, higher among women and among the rich segment of the population," the study said. 

Women (61.4) are more vulnerable, the study said. Those in the middle to the richest quintile of the respondents are also at most risk. 

The UPPI said that majority of the country's confirmed cases (still pegged at 636 in the study) are in the age group 50 and above. 

"Furthermore, there is a highly imbalanced sex ratio among COVID-19 positive cases, with a higher proportion of men starting at age group 30-34 and persisting to the oldest age group," it added. 

The study also analyzed data from the first 38 recorded deaths and an overwhelming majority (89%) are in the age group 55 and older, most of them male.  

"The number of people at risk of severe disease among older Filipinos is a strong justification to protect this segment of the population from being infected by the novel coronavirus," the study said.

As of Friday, March 27, the Philippines has 803 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with 54 deaths and 31 recoveries.

The number of cases worldwide has risen to over 539,360, with at least 24,663 deaths. The virus has spread to 183 countries. – Rappler.com