The Aussies most likely to die from coronavirus
Males and Australians with heart disease are at the greatest risk from coronavirus with data from China showing it is the health condition most associated with death from the virus.
Death rates are highest for those aged over 80 years of age, 21.9 per cent of them died from COVID-19.
People who had no chronic health conditions had a death rate of 1.4 per cent but those with heart disease had a death rate of 13.2 per cent, experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) found.
The team looked at deaths among the more than 55,000 cases of COVID-19 in China.
They found people with chronic illnesses were at higher risk of dying from the virus.
Patients with COVID-19 who had diabetes had a death rate of 9.2 per cent, high blood pressure 8.4 per cent, chronic respiratory disease 8 per cent and cancer 7.6 per cent.
And being male also carried a higher risk of death with the death rate among men with COVID-19 4.7 per cent compared to females is 2.8 per cent.
The Heart Foundation's chief medical adviser Professor Gary Jennings said it was not yet clear why people with heart disease were more at risk of dying from coronavirus.
"We see it with the flu as well so it is similar, what we don't know is why," he said.
"They've got less reserves because they are struggling with heart disease and then something else comes along and overwhelms them.
"It's a respiratory illness and they already have fluid build-up in their lungs from heart disease."
New research looking at deaths among 191 Chinese coronavirus patients published in The Lancet journal found the average time to death from the virus was 18 days.
Patients who died were more likely to develop sepsis, have blood clots, lower white blood cell count, elevated levels of a biomarker for inflammation and chronic disease, indicators they had suffered a heart attack.
Almost all those who died suffered respiratory failure, and sepsis and half of them developed secondary infections.
Meanwhile virologists have claimed an overly aggressive immune response to coronavirus that destroys healthy tissue in airways - needed to keep out bacteria - could be the reason some people die from coronavirus.
US National Institutes of Health flu expert Jeffrey Tauubenberger who was sequenced the genome of the deadly 1918 influenza virus said COVID-19 starts in the nose and if it's contained in the upper airway usually results in a less severe disease.
However, if the virus moves into the lungs it can trigger a more severe phase.
"You have no ability to keep stuff out of the lower respiratory tract," he told Bloomberg.
This left the lungs are vulnerable to an invasive secondary bacterial infection, he said.
The WHO team found it took about two weeks to recover from a mild cases of the virus, 3-6 weeks for patients with severe or critical disease.
It took around one week for the virus to progress from a mild case to severe disease and patients who died did so between 2-8 weeks after they got the infection, the report found.