Age is the single biggest risk factor for severe disease and death with COVID. India has an exceptionally young population, with only 6% aged 65 and over. Even with a slightly more deadly virus, one would expect most to recover at home without the need for hospital care. But a relatively unhealthy middle-aged population in part offsets this advantage.
Air pollution is closely associated with lung and heart disease. A whopping 17.8% of all deaths in India were due to pollution in 2019, and Delhi, currently flooded with COVID patients seeking oxygen, is the most polluted capital in the world.
Obesity is also a growing concern in India, with high rates in urban areas where COVID outbreaks have been most concentrated. The prevalence of diabetes in those aged 50-69 years is over 30%, much higher than in other Asian countries. One in five women of reproductive age has undiagnosed high blood pressure.
Source: The Conversation