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Not Only Older Adults: Severe Covid-19 Can Affect People of All Ages

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Despite widespread campaigns to promote social distancing, face masks and other approaches to prevent transmission of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the globe.

Despite widespread campaigns to promote social distancing, face masks and other approaches to prevent transmission of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the globe. It has been stated by many experts that people with compromised immunity and pre-existing diseases and those who are over 60 years old are more likely to get severely affected by COVID-19. However, in recent research published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on 9th September 2020, it was found that SARS-CoV-2 virus can lead to severe complications in not only the at-risk populations but people of all age groups.

Examining the effect of COVID-19 on young adults

In this study, Dr Scott D. Solomon, a professor of medicine at Harvard, and his team conducted a research on around 7.8 lakh young adults, in the age group of 18 to 34 years, who were discharged from around 400 hospitals in the United States between 1st April and 30th June 2020.

Amongst all these people, approximately 1,187 adults were obese and 789 adults were morbidly obese. A person is called morbidly obese if they have a body mass index of more than 40, while the normal range is 20-25. Around 588 people had diabetes and 519 were diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure).

Out of all the people discharged, 63,103 people had COVID-19 infection but only 3,222 patients, who had COVID-19, were included in the study.

Results of the study

The results of the study showed that during the hospital stay, around 684 patients (21%) were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), 331 (10%) required mechanical ventilation for breathing support, and 88 (2.7%) adults died. Out of the ones who survived during the period of hospitalization, 99 had to be sent to rehabilitation centres after discharge from the hospital.

Conclusion: COVID-19 affects all age groups

With this study, scientists concluded that though the death rate in young adults is lower than seen in adults, it is still twice what is seen in young adults with acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). So, the risk of getting severe symptoms of COVID-19 is also present in young people, especially the ones with morbid obesity.

For more information, read our article on COVID-19 prevention tips for young and healthy people.

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first published:September 11, 2020, 19:00 IST