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  • This episode is supported by Kiwi Co.

  • 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 going to be looking at the Coronavirus 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 use that age distinction.

  • But then we'll look more specifically at 20- to 44-year-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.

  • 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 conversation 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 sixty, even if hospitalized, are dying, 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.

  • Out of that, 11% or 3206 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 absolute 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 gonna 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, 2 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 Coronavirus.

  • 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.

  • It may 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 to 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 aid our hospitals in keeping us all safe.

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This episode is supported by Kiwi Co.

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Are Young People Safe? | Coronavirus

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/04/13
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