he notion that coronavirus is “just a cold” or “no worse than the flu” for young people is proving to be untrue. The COVID-19 virus is capable of causing infection and severe disease in all people of all ages. The data that has been seen from a number of countries is that the majority of children that are infected are experiencing mild disease.
As COVID-19 cases continue to climb globally, a common misconception spreading with the illness is that it mainly affects the elderly while sparing younger people.
According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In the U.S., people under 44 make up 20% of hospitalized coronavirus patients”.
What’s behind the number of young people with coronavirus?
The fast-paced lifestyles of some young people, eating habits in the U.S. and the number of young adults not practicing social distancing may help explain why early data in China differs from the U.S. and Europe.
One possibility is a gene variation in the ACE2 gene. In an article in Science magazine, Immunologist Dr. Philip Murphy said, “Variations in the ACE2 gene that alter the receptor could make it easier or harder for the virus to get into lung cells.”
It is also possible that a critical ingredient produced by the body, known as surfactant, which better allows the lungs to expand and contract, becomes depleted in some patients infected with the coronavirus. Without surfactant, however, your lung becomes stiff and hard to squeeze.
Young people are not Invincible
The health message has been clear so far – “the older you are, the more at risk you are from coronavirus”.
The casual attitude of young people toward the coronavirus is at odds with the reality of what doctors see.
Steinberg said, “Young adults are not immune to coronavirus. Lower risk should never be confused with no risk”.
- COVID-19 findings from the US show younger adults are being hospitalized.
- Fatalities were highest in people over 85 years old, but the World Health Organization warns younger people against complacency.
- Infected young adults are sharing experiences on social media.
- Getting infected by COVID-19 isn’t just a worry for the elderly.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference, “Although older people are hardest hit, younger people are not spared”; “I have a message for young people: you are not invincible, this virus could put you in hospital for weeks or even kill you.”
Of course, there are people walking around who have no idea they have it. “Some will go on to have symptoms in three days, and some will never have symptoms.”
The belief among most public health professionals is that many Americans are already infected. Yet because widespread testing isn’t yet available, it’s impossible to know who they are.
That’s why social distancing measures like California’s shelter-in-place order are essential to slowing the spread and flattening-the-curve.
“So, Everyone should act as if they are already infected.”
Will social distancing work?
Experts are certain that without social distancing measures, the virus would spread quickly and infect a high proportion of the population.
“The cases we see today reflect transmission that happened one to two weeks ago. We’re always seeing just the tip of the iceberg – the iceberg we know for sure is much larger”.
That also means that the success of social distancing measures –if people will comply to Social Distancing, still it will only become apparent after about two weeks.
Let the Chain of Transmission break with Social Distancing
And while younger people might be less likely to become severely ill, they can just as easily spread the virus to others.
And coronavirus seems to be considerably more infectious than flu – each person with the virus, on average, passes it on to between two and three other people.Those two or three people can pass in on to another two or three more people each, and so on. This means a seemingly small number of people quickly turns into hundreds and thousands.
For now, no matter your age or underlying condition, the advice remains the same. Stay home, wash your hands and reduce your virus exposure as much as possible. Even if you do develop mild symptoms, it is probably best to stay home to recover.
It’s not for One Person or One Community, Its for You, Me and Each one of Us.