As the coronavirus is spreading around the world, there is still a lot we don't know about the outbreak.
First assumptions about the virus indicated the elderly would be more vulnerable to the virus and more likely to face serious complications, as opposed to younger people. However, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that younger adults are also vulnerable to the coronavirus, contrary to what was previously thought.
Based on the first 2,449 recorded cases in the United States, the study shows that people of all ages could be greatly affected by the virus and finds that 40% of those sick enough to be hospitalized were aged 20 to 54, the New York Times reported.
“I think everyone should be paying attention to this,” told Stephen S. Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, to the New York Times.
“It’s not just going to be the elderly. There will be people age 20 and up. They do have to be careful, even if they think that they’re young and healthy,” he added.
Similarly, earlier this week, Dr. Deborah Birx, a State Department official leading the United State's coronavirus task force said that younger adults also need to avoid gatherings and to take steps to protect themselves.
“There are concerning reports coming out of France and Italy about some young people getting seriously ill, and very seriously ill in the ICUs,” she said.
In France, health ministry official Jérome Salomon also said half of the coronavirus patients in intensive care units in Paris were younger than 65.
However, the CDC report did not include information on whether patients had underlying conditions, the New York Times indicated. It is therefore impossible to know if those younger patients were already more vulnerable than others in their age group.
But experts mentioned that just the fact that those young people were hospitalized and, some, in intensive care units, was a significant finding and shows that everybody is at risk.
On another hand, the Washington Post quotes experts arguing that it would be difficult to properly interpret those data to best understand what risks younger people face. Comparing coronavirus cases by age across countries may provide different results depending on the environment, lifestyle, demographics. "Maybe some young people who were tested happen to be in cities or industrial areas with a lot of pollution that may affect their susceptibility to serious respiratory illness," The Washington Post writes.