Background: The infection fatality rate (IFR) of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) varies widely according to age and residence status.
Purpose: Estimate the IFR of COVID-19 in community-dwelling elderly populations and other age groups from seroprevalence studies. Study protocol: https://osf.io/47cgb.
Data Sources: Seroprevalence studies done in 2020 and identified by any of four existing systematic reviews.
Study Selection: SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence studies with ≥1000 participants aged ≥70 years that presented seroprevalence in elderly people; aimed to generate samples reflecting the general population; and whose location had available data on cumulative COVID-19 deaths in elderly (primary cutoff ≥70 years; ≥65 or ≥60 also eligible).
Data Extraction: We extracted the most fully adjusted (if unavailable, unadjusted) seroprevalence estimates and sampling procedure details. We also extracted age- and residence-stratified cumulative COVID-19 deaths (until 1 week after the seroprevalence sampling midpoint) from official reports, and population statistics, to calculate IFRs corrected for unmeasured antibody types. Sample size-weighted IFRs were estimated for countries with multiple estimates. Secondary analyses examined data on younger age strata from the same studies.
Data Synthesis: Twenty-three seroprevalence surveys representing 14 countries were included. Across all countries, the median IFR in community-dwelling elderly and elderly overall was 2.4% (range 0.3%-7.2%) and 5.5% (range 0.3%-12.1%). IFR was higher with larger proportions of people >85 years. Younger age strata had low IFR values (median 0.0027%, 0.014%, 0.031%, 0.082%, 0.27%, and 0.59%, at 0-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60-69 years).
Limitations: Biases in seroprevalence and mortality data.
Conclusions: The IFR of COVID-19 in community-dwelling elderly people is lower than previously reported. Very low IFRs were confirmed in the youngest populations.
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