Are Young People Safe? | Coronavirus


When COVID-19 first began to spread, much of the conversation was around how older people, particularly those above 60 were the target of the virus. But as more stories and data come out about young people being hospitalized or even dying, are young people safe? Today, we're gonna be looking at the Corona Virus data and its impact on different age groups from infection rates to hospitalization to deaths. First, we'll look broadly at those under 60 years old because a lot of the studies that have come out used that age distinction, but then we'll look more specifically at 20 to 44 years olds, and then finally, look at those under 20 with the data that's available. - It's important to remember that COVID-19 can take a serious toll on your respiratory system. If it gets into the lungs, the virus damages the alveoli, which are tiny sacs in your lungs that exchange oxygen into your blood. As these alveoli become damaged by the virus, it becomes difficult to breathe, and your own immune system can sometimes make things worse by going into overdrive, also killing useful cells and causing more fluid and blockages in the lungs.

 This will be important to remember later when we talk about the lungs and immune systems of young versus old people. - So let's take a look at some numbers. If we just take a look at the percentages of death per age group in this graph, it's clear that the older you are, the higher the risk of death. But last month, the CDC released the following chart, which took a month long view at COVID-19 patients. In it, we can see that for people between the ages of 20 to 44 that get COVID-19, upwards of 20% become hospitalized. Furthermore, up to 4% required ICU admission, and studies out of Spain have found similar numbers with around 17% of people between 20 to 49 requiring hospitalization. - So did something change from the beginning when we were mostly just told that it was old people? Not really. The truth is that the conversations started around people in China who were dying, and the early data that came in found that this was mostly the older population and it still is. But now, we are receiving more broad data on general infections, and serious cases, not just deaths. A recent study in Italy of 5,000 deaths found that less than 5% of those who died were under 60, which helps to give a little more perspective overall a small number of people under 60, even if hospitalized are dying. 

Are Young People Safe From Coronavirus


But, it can still happen. Furthermore, data coming out of New York City has shown that those under 60 who have died, around 95% of them had some other underlying health condition. - However, this doesn't mean that young people aren't being severely affected. The most recent numbers out of New York as of April 8th, 2020 show that 39% of those testing positive are between 18 to 44. Of that group, 11% or 3,206 have become hospitalized and 203 have died. Of that 203 deaths, 161 had underlying conditions, 16 did not and 26 are still being reviewed. So while the number of deaths in healthy, young individuals is low, it's important to remember that severe illness and even hospitalization rates are still significant. - So the chances of a young person with no underlying health conditions dying, it's rare, but can it happen? Yes. And as the absolutely number of infections goes up, even though the percentage of young people who are dying is low, that absolute number is going to increase as well. So sadly, we are going to hear more stories about young, healthy people dying. - But what about people specifically under 20? Well, in that same study out of Italy of 5,000 deaths, none of them were under 20. But we know from the headlines that there have been a handful of deaths of teens and toddlers, so it's not impossible. 

In New York, two people under 18 have died as of April 8th, but both of them had underlying conditions. So, why are there seemingly healthy young people dying at all? One theory is that some individuals just have a genetic makeup that makes them more likely to respond badly to this specific Corona V irus. Others suggest there may be a specific gene that alters respiratory receptors making it easier for the virus to infect the lungs of some people, and they also have to do with viral load, that is the actual amount of virus particles that infects an individual. With a higher dose, it's believed that your outcome may be worse. - But why is it generally more rare for younger people to die in the first place? As you age, your lung and chest muscles weaken, and the immune system slows down. Mix this with the fact that older people have a higher likelihood of other conditions like diabetes or heart disease and the numbers start to make more sense. For kids, one theory is that their immune systems are actually a little underdeveloped in some ways, and so, it's less likely to kick into overdrive and fill the lungs with fluid. - We wanted to make this video not to scare people, but to make sure that people understood that it can happen to young people. Even though some may show no symptoms while others only show mild symptoms, being young and healthy doesn't make us invincible. 

Many cases of young people have included fever for weeks, absolute physical exhaustion and trouble breathing, and we've yet to understand the long-term implications on health. - Even if you don't get seriously ill, it doesn't mean that you can't be a carrier and give it someone else whether they're young or old. And as hospital systems become full and overwhelmed, it's possible that cases which could be treated with intensive care and regardless of their age may not because there's a lack of hospital staff or there's a lack of proper equipment. So remember, even though your odds of dying from COVID-19 may not be high, it's important that you stay home and stay away from people in order to keep yourself safe, to keep others safe, and to aide our hospitals in keeping us all safe.