Caracas, Jun 1 (efe-epa).- Venezuela thus far has bucked the global trend in terms of coronavirus demographics, with people 39 and under accounting for a whopping 1,046 (71.7 percent) of that South American country’s 1,459 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
A total of 432 people between the ages of 20 and 29 have been infected with the novel coronavirus, or 29.6 percent of the total, followed by the 30-39 group (343 cases, or 23.5 percent) and the 0-19 segment of the population (271 cases, 18.6 percent).
Just 413 cases (28.3 percent of the total) correspond to people over the age of 39.
By contrast, the situation in Italy is virtually the opposite. There, people 51 and over accounted for around 70 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases on May 25, according to Statista, a German online portal for statistics.
Even in South Korea, where people aged 20-29 account were the age segment with the largest share of Covid-19 infections on May 28, people over 40 still made up the majority of overall confirmed cases, Statista says.
One potential explanation for Venezuela’s numbers is that in recent weeks more than 52,000 citizens who had fled hyperinflation and a deep recession and migrated to other countries of the region have returned to Venezuela due to the Covid-19 triggered economic crisis.
Most of these individuals have been young people between the ages of 15 and 29, said Anitza Freitez, director of Caracas’ Andres Bello Catholic University’s Venezuelan Migration Observatory.
When the coronavirus became a pandemic and governments elected to impose strict measures to contain the disease, Venezuelans abroad found themselves out of work and, in the most extreme cases, homeless.
In returning to Venezuela, they left countries such as Colombia and Brazil where, based on official figures in those three countries, the coronavirus thus far has had a greater impact than in their homeland.
Among those migrants are children who were born in Venezuela before their parents fled their homeland or were born in neighboring countries.
Like their mothers and fathers, these minors have been unable to observe the recommended social-distancing measures while returning to Venezuela and therefore may have been in close contact with other countrymen traveling in their same group who were infected with the coronavirus.
Another explanation for the higher infection rate in people under 39 is simple demographics.
Unlike in other countries such as Spain or Italy, Venezuelan society “remains largely young – between 15 and 59,” Freitez said.
Finally, Human Rights Watch and Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Public Health and Human Rights and Center for Humanitarian Health said in a news release last week that Venezuela’s real coronavirus numbers are almost certainly much higher than the official figures show.
Those organizations, which said Venezuela urgently needs international aid to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, said the small number of cases and deaths (1,510 cases and 14 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins’ latest figures) in that country were due to a lack of reliable testing and government transparency and even “the persecution of medical professionals and journalists” who challenge the official version of the health situation.
Undercounting of coronavirus cases is by no means a problem exclusive to Venezuela.
For example, the governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, said in April that based on a recent state-wide antibody study up to 2.7 million New Yorkers may have been infected at some time with the novel coronavirus.
At the time Cuomo gave that estimate, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the entire United States stood at about 826,000.
The demographics of coronavirus cases have little to do with the demographics of Covid-19 deaths.
Globally, the vast majority of Covid-19 deaths have occurred among the elderly. That holds true even in countries like South Korea, where, according to the Statista portal, more people under 50 than over 50 have contracted the disease. EFE-EPA