COVID-19: young people can be severely affected too


20 March 2020

A new analysis of some early COVID-19 cases in the US shows that while older adults are at greatest risk, young people can also suffer serious illness, with 1 in 5 of those hospitalised aged 20-44 years.

In China, the first reported cases of COVID-19 indicated 80 per cent of deaths occurred in people aged 60 or over, and only one death was reported in the 19 years and under group.

Preliminary analysis of the US cases also shows older adults were at the highest risk of severe outcomes, but shows that any adults over 19 can have severe illness, leading to hospitalisation (including admittance to an intensive care unit), and/or death. There were almost no hospitalisations or deaths in those under 19 years, consistent with the cases in China.

The report by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in the USA covered 4226 recorded cases of COVID-19. There was age data for 2449 of the cases.

Some of the findings in younger people were:

  • Among 508 patients known to have been hospitalised, 20 per cent were aged 20-44 years.
  • Among 121 patients admitted to an ICU, 12 per cent were aged 20-44 years.

The report acknowledges several limitations with the data, including that it might overestimate severe disease due to selection of patients, and that follow-up is needed to determine outcomes in active cases.


Author: myDr


CDC COVID-19 Response Team. Severe outcomes among patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID0-19) United States, February 12 - March 16, 2020. MMWR March 18, 2020.


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