ROME—Italy, the first non-Asian country hit by the coronavirus pandemic early this year, once again is struggling with one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks.
Around 611 people are dying of Covid-19 in Italy on an average day, behind only Brazil and the U.S. This year Italy has recorded about 68,900 confirmed deaths from the virus, the highest total in Europe and fifth in the world after the U.S., Brazil, India and Mexico—which all have much bigger populations.
Once again, Italians are asking themselves: Why is Covid-19 killing more people here than almost anywhere else?
The answer lies partly in demographics, public health experts say. Italy has one of the world’s oldest populations, second only to Japan. Nearly one in four Italians is over 65, an age group much more likely to succumb to the disease.
Another factor: Multigenerational homes are especially common in Italy, potentially exposing older people to infection from their younger relatives.
Since the pandemic began, 95% of those killed by the virus in Italy have been over 60, and 86% over 70. Deaths in many other countries have also been concentrated among older people, but there are proportionately more of them in Italy.
Italy’s death toll also looks bad on a per capita basis. The country has recorded 15.9 coronavirus deaths for every 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, compared with 6.3 in Spain, 6.9 in Germany and 8.3 in France, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.