Youth does not protect people from serious illness. This is the main conclusion of a study, carried out by experts from the Benioff Children's Hospital of the University of California, that has analyzed the numerous cases of young adults infected with the coronavirus in the USA.
The researchers examined data drawn from a national sample of approximately 8,400 men and women 18 to 25 years of age and noted how the overall medical vulnerability was 33% for men and 30% for women.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from the USA, which were not included in this study, indicate that although patients older than 65 years are significantly more likely to be hospitalized than younger ones, the gap is narrowing.
In the week ending April 18, there were 8.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in the 18-29 age group, compared to 128.3 per 100,000 residents for those over 65.
However, in the week ending June 27, the figures were 34.7 and 306.7 respectively, representing a 299% increase in hospitalizations for young adults compared to a 139% increase in hospitalizations for young adults. older adults.
The researchers, led by Sally Adams, determined the vulnerability using indicators identified by the CDC. These included heart conditions, diabetes, current asthma, immune conditions (such as lupus, gout, rheumatoid arthritis), liver conditions, obesity, and smoking in the past 30 days.
The work, published in the JOurnal of Adolescent Health reveals how the impact of smoking outweighed the other less common risks, as 100% of smokers were vulnerable to severe COVID-19.
Most notable among their results was that medical vulnerability stood at 16.1% for 6,741 non-smokers, compared to 31.5% for the full sample of 8,405 young adults, which included smokers.
"Smoking is associated with an increased likelihood of COVID-19 progression, including increased disease severity, ICU admission, or death," explains Adams. "Smoking can have significant effects in young adults, who typically have low rates for most chronic diseases."
The importance of reducing smoking
Recent research also shows that young adults are starting to smoke at higher rates than teens, a reversal of previous trends. In the previous thirty days, 10.9% had smoked a cigarette, 4.5% had smoked a tobacco product, and 7.2% had smoked an electronic cigarette.
The number of smokers, 1,664 or 19.8%, was greater than the number of people with asthma (8.6%), obesity (3%) and immunological disorders (2.4%). In addition, 1.2% had diabetes, 0.6% a liver condition, and 0.5% a heart condition.
"The risk of being medically vulnerable to serious illness is cut in half when smokers are removed from the sample," says Charles Irwin Jr., primary author. "Efforts to reduce smoking and e-cigarette use among young adults would likely decrease their vulnerability to serious illness," the experts explain.
Scientists observed gender differences in five vulnerability indicators: women were more likely to have asthma (10% vs. 7.3%), to be obese (3.3% vs. 2.6%), and to have immune problems (3.2% vs. 1.6%).
However, significantly fewer young women smoked, resulting in an overall medical vulnerability of 29.7%, compared to 33.3% for young men.