The Age of COVID

Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination program started in December, 2020, picking up in earnest by March, 2021. The program focused on the oldest population first, with over 80% of people over 70 years old at least partially vaccinated by the end of April. However, as variants are becoming increasingly common, the media has been reporting that cases are shifting to younger age groups since March.

I wanted to visualize this trend using a timeline. Official data was downloaded from PHAC on 2021-05-16. These trend lines are weekly averages of deaths and age group in Canada:

The average age of COVID mortality in Canada is down about 5 years in 2021 – from approximately 82 to 77. Some notes about the source data:

  • Only age group is reported, so average age is approximate.
  • Variability is evident in the summer of 2020 due to low numbers.
  • Only weekly data is available, and only up to the end of April.

PHAC also reports ICU and hospitalization data, so let’s compare this to mortality. Again, these trend lines are weekly averages in Canada, with the same limitations as before:

The change in ICU and hospitalization in 2021 is closer to 10 years, with average age down from around 68 to 58 years old.

Breaking the results down by age group highlights the relative changes involved in this trend. This is PHAC’s hospitalization data broken down by age group:

The 80+ age group has by far the largest share of hospitalized patients in 2020, despite being a smaller population than younger age groups. However, this is no longer the case in 2021. Younger age groups are consequently seeing a significant increase in representation on a relative basis.

View updated version of this article.

A more up to date sample of mortality case data can be browsed on Esri Canada’s database.

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