New CDC report on US COVID-19 cases affirms seriousness for the young
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the first analysis of COVID-19 cases in the United States. While patient ages and fatalities so far seen in the US do resemble data from other countries, the numbers are a reminder the disease can be dangerous to younger people, with 20 percent of all hospitalized patients aged between 20 and 44 years.
The new CDC report is classed as preliminary, with a large number of gaps in the data. In total it reports on 4,226 COVID-19 cases in the United States as of March 16, however, age data is only known for 2,449 of those patients.
The report is not intended as a current indication of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US, but instead it's a study of cases in relation to age and outcome. As of March 19 there are now over 10,000 confirmed cases in the US, although there is modeling to suggest the real number may be significantly higher.
The US data in the CDC report so far mirrors what was seen in other countries such as China, with the highest level of hospitalizations and death seen among over 65s.
“Overall, 31% of cases, 45% of hospitalizations, 53% of ICU admissions, and 80% of deaths associated with COVID-19 were among adults aged ≥65 years with the highest percentage of severe outcomes among persons aged ≥85 years,” the CDC report states.
Despite the consistent messaging warning elderly citizens are the group most at risk of developing severe life-threatening disease from the virus, the data does serve as a reminder the illness can be dangerous in younger demographics as well. Nearly 50 percent of all confirmed cases were in people aged under 54, and almost 40 percent of all hospitalizations occurred in that age bracket.
This message, that the virus does not just target the elderly, is one many global health bodies are stridently trying to convey. Although younger people are statistically less likely to die from COVID-19, that certainly does not mean they are immune to unpleasant and severe cases of the disease. In a recent briefing the head of the WHO emergency program, Mike Ryan, pointed out the disease can be severe in healthy young adults.
“Physicians again in Italy will attest to this, and in Korea,” said Ryan. “This isn’t just a disease of the elderly. There is no question that younger, healthier people experience an overall less serious disease. But a significant number of otherwise healthy adults can develop a more severe form of the disease.”
The CDC’s concluding recommendation in the report is that every citizen should practice social distancing regardless of age. Younger people may be more likely to experience a milder form of the disease but that does not mean they cannot end up with severe COVID-19–associated illness requiring hospitalization.
“Social distancing is recommended for all ages to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health care system, and help protect vulnerable older adults,” the CDC report concludes. “Further, older adults should maintain adequate supplies of nonperishable foods and at least a 30-day supply of necessary medications, take precautions to keep space between themselves and others, stay away from those who are sick, avoid crowds as much as possible, avoid cruise travel and nonessential air travel, and stay home as much as possible to further reduce the risk of being exposed.”
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How many of the 2.2-4.2 contact transmissions per KNOWN Covid-19 suffer severe consequences? And if they had a mild case, are they susceptible to re-infection or do they have immunity?
I'm tired of folks declaring SARS-CoV2 to be worst than SARS or Spanish Flu. Apples and Oranges folks. You know if you are healthy to day and your grocer in the checkout line is healthy to day - but is home with something bad tomorrow - to watch for changes in your health. But 4-10 days after seeing someone and talking for 15 minutes or more? Are you aware of changes in your health - or theirs? That is what separates this from SARS (extremely infectious) or Spanish Flu (as infectious but you show signs in 36 hours at the latest).
We know patients with comorbidities lack the physiologic reserve to weather the extremely sever pneumonia phase. You need to stay alive while the lung heals, while the immune system wipes out the infected cells. Essentially the atypical pneumonia is a fluid filled lungs with minimal areas functioning for gas exchange and without oxygen, the heart, the kidneys, the liver, the brain all suffer. And mechanical ventilation can only do so much in those conditions. You have to regrow some of the pneumocytes (the thin cells that form the end portions of the lungs - or the lung sacs) to replace the infected ones, you have to reabsorb the fluids that seeped into the air passages during the infection, and you have to survive that period of hypoxia and mild hypercapnia.
I'm sorry, who thought this physiological challenge only affected the elderly? It is bad for anyone to progress from a cold to the atypical pneumonia and ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome)?