One in five coronavirus patients hospitalized in the USA is under the age of 44, according to a new federal report - proving that even young Americans can face serious health outcomes if the virus is not contained.
"Among 508 (12%) patients known to have been hospitalized, 9% were aged 85 years, 26% were aged 65-84 years, 17% were aged 55-64 years, 18% were 45-54 years, and 20% were aged 20-44 years", the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. Younger people may be more likely to experience a milder form of the disease but that does not mean they can not end up with severe COVID-19-associated illness requiring hospitalization.
The report did not say whether the patients had underlying risk factors such as a chronic illness or compromised immune systems, so it's unclear whether the younger adults hospitalized were more vulnerable to serious infection than others. The study provides a good snapshot of which age groups are most affected and how; overall death and hospitalization rates will likely shift as more Americans have access to testing. In a recent briefing the head of the World Health Organization emergency program, Mike Ryan, pointed out the disease can be severe in healthy young adults.
The findings echo what's been documented in China: The risk of serious disease and death is higher in older age groups.
When it comes to US case counts, the CDC study found that of about 2,450 infected people whose ages were known, about 25% of them were 65 and older.
Health officials have long warned that the elderly, those with underlying health issues and patients who are immunocompromised are most at risk for developing complications from COVID-19, and based on data compiled between February 12 and March 16, the rate of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths from the virus support those claims.
"Case-fatality percentages increased with increasing age", the report said.