When COVID-19 or Corona Virus started to spread, it was mostly about older people, in particular, those over 60 were the major targets of the virus. But now that more stories and data about young people are coming out from hospitals, are young people really safe? Let’s find out!
Today we will look at the corona-virus data and its impact on different age groups from infection rates to hospitalization to the death toll.
First, we broadly looked at the ones under 60, because many of the studies that came out used this designation & then we will look more specifically at them between 18 and 44 years old and then finally at those under 20 with the available data.
It is important to note that Corona-virus can have a serious toll on our respiratory system. When it gets into our lungs, the virus damages the alveoli, which are tiny sacs in the lungs that exchange oxygen. If these alveoli are damaged by the virus then it creates more difficulty in breathing. Our immune system can sometimes make things worse by going into overdrive and also kill “good” cells which in turn provides more fluid and blockages in the lungs. This will be important to remember for later when talking about the lungs and immune systems of the young and the elderly.
Analysis / Statistics
For analysis purposes, we will also consider the available data from New York as its total number of cases is comparable to that of India (NY -4.13 Lacs, India- 4.73 lacs) (Source).
Let’s look at the percentage of people that dies per age group in the table below:
It’s clear the older you are, the higher the risk of death. In April, the CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) released data that looked at Corona patients from the U.S. for a month.
The people aged between 18 and 49 who receive COVID-19 are still around 18% out of the total hospitalized. However, this number may still be lower in India as it records 0.2 Corona deaths per lakh population as against the global figure of 4.1 as per health ministry (Source) as of last month.
Though, our mortality rate is lesser in comparison to the global average owing to better immunity. In India (as of May ’20), out of 3435 deaths, 49.5% were below 60 years of age.
Out of total deaths, nearly 2.47% of people aged 15-30, 11.4% aged 30-45, 35.08% aged 45-60, and 50.5 above 60 years of age have died. (Source)
Has anything changed since the beginning when we were told it was only about the elderly?
The truth is that the conversation started around people in China who died. The early stats that came in were mainly about the older population. However, now we are receiving broader data on common infections and serious cases, not just the death toll.
In general, only a small number of people under 60 die, but it can still happen.
Furthermore, data from New York City has shown that of those under 60 who died 95% already had an underlying medical condition. This is almost the same as in India. Experts point out that while the disease outcome is worse in older people with co-morbidities even younger ones who are immuno-compromised can be vulnerable.
Although this does not mean that young people are not seriously infected. So while the number of deaths in healthy young persons is low, it is important to remember that major illness and hospitalizations are still significant.
The chance that a young person dies without an underlying medical condition is rare, but can it happen?
YES! if the total number of infections increases even though the young individual’s deaths are low, this number will also rise. So, unfortunately, we are going to hear more stories about young, healthy people who die.
What about people specifically under 30?
In India, as of May ’20, there have been quite a several cases. To be precise its 103 including 17 kids who are less than 15 years of age & have succumbed to the infection. It targets vital organs such as lung, kidney, and heart.
Why do healthy young people die at all?
One theory is that some individuals simply have a genetic predisposition making them less responsive to this virus. There may be a specific gene that modifies respiratory receptors making it easier for the virus to infect people’s lungs.
It may also be related to viral load i.e. the number of virus particles that infect you as an individual. With a higher dose, it might have a less good outcome.
Why is it generally rarer for young people to die?
As you age, your lung and chest muscles become weaker and your immune system slows down. The elderly are more likely to have problems such as diabetes or a heart condition. For children, there is a theory that their immune system is a little bit underdeveloped in some ways. So it is less prone to overdrive and fills the lungs with fluid.
We didn’t want to scare people, but to make sure people understand that it can happen to young people too. Even if you don’t show any symptoms while others only exhibiting mild symptoms does not make us young and healthy. Many cases of young people have had a fever for weeks, absolute physical exhaustion, and difficulty breathing.
Remember! India has limited medical Infrastructure compared to its population.
Even if you don’t get seriously ill, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a carrier and give it to others, whether they’re young or old.
And as hospitals fill up and become overloaded, the cases that can be treated with intensive care may not be treated, regardless of age due to lack of hospital staff or lack of proper equipment.
So remember! Although your chances of death from Corona are not high, it is important to take enough precautions & stay away from people by maintaining proper social distancing to keep yourself safe, keep others safe, and to help the hospitals keep us safe.
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