Thursday, March 19, 2020

COVID-19: Not just the elderly; all age groups are at risk

If you were pre-retirement age and comforted that only old folks were getting severely ill from COVID-19, understand that things have changed.

Middle-aged folks are also severely impacted. And even infants, who seemed entirely protected in early reviews, are at risk.

The high risk assessment for the elderly came from very early reports out of China, but now that itʻs a pandemic, and thereʻs a lot more information available, the picture is growing more complex.

The upshot: While the death rate is higher among the elderly, the hospitalization rate is only slightly lower for folks in the middle-age category. One in ten or so people in almost every age group get so sick they need medical intervention. Those under age 20 seem to do the best, but anyone with underlying health conditions is at increased risk.

It is another justification for the seemingly severe recommendations for keeping your human contacts to a minimum, and for keeping those contacts at a distance.

Here is a Centers for Disease Control report on patients within the United States.

It reconfirms that death rates are highest among the oldest patients—up to a quarter of infected people older than 85 are dying. The death rates go down as ages go down, but only the kids under 19 appear to avoid the severest symptoms.

Of the 12 percent of known U.S. patients who were hospitalized, "18% were 45–54 years, and 20% were aged 20–44 years."

Thatʻs 38 percent aged 55 or younger.

In France, half were younger than 65. In Holland, half were younger than 50.

And while infants rarely get the disease, and the symptoms tend to be milder than in adults, infants do get it. Here is a China paper about one fatal case. 

During one week in January in China, six children, with a median age of three years, were hospitalized with Covid-19. It wasnʻt pretty for them: 

"All six children had previously been completely healthy. Common clinical characteristics included high fever (>39°C) (in all six patients), cough (in all six), and vomiting (in four). Laboratory investigations showed that the levels of lymphocytes, white cells, and neutrophils were below the normal range in six, four, and three patients, respectively. Four of the six patients had pneumonia, as assessed radiographically, with computed tomographic scans of the chest showing typical viral pneumonia patterns."

That was from this paper in the New England Journal of Medicine.  

Here arerecommendations from Johns Hopkins for parents with infants. 

And here are Centers for Disease Control recommendations for those with kids. 

As this is written on March 19, 2020, there have been a quarter million positive cases worldwide, and 10,000 deaths.

©Jan TenBruggencate 2020

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