Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Tuesday pushed back against President Trump’s claim the coronavirus “virtually” affects no young people.
During a campaign rally in Swanton, Ohio, Monday night, Trump made the argument the virus only sickens the elderly.
“Now we know it affects elderly people. Elderly people with heart problems and other problems. If they have other problems, that’s what it really affects. That’s it. You know, in some states thousands of people— nobody young — below the age of 18, like nobody — they have a strong immune system — who knows?” Trump told a crowd of his supporters.
“Take your hat off to the young, because they have a hell of an immune system. But it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing,” he said.
“It’s very disrespectful to me, because I’m in my 70s … It isn’t just the elderly and those with underlying conditions. It can be serious in young people,” Dr. Fauci says. Yesterday, President Trump falsely claimed that coronavirus affects “nobody young.” https://t.co/Xe5VqjIyl1 pic.twitter.com/8IEURsxSoP
— CNN (@CNN) September 22, 2020
On Tuesday, Fauci spoke with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta who noted Trump’s rally remarks and emphasized it’s not just the elderly with underlying conditions who have to be concerned about COVID-19.
“No it’s not,” Fauci said.
“Quantitatively, for sure, it’s much much much less serious as a group in young individuals, but the thing we need to remember…is that there are a number of people in our society of substantial proportion who have underlying conditions. And if you look at the two groups that are at risk for serious conditions, it’s the elderly and people at any age with underlying conditions. Underlining any age,” Fauci said.
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The nation’s top infectious diseases expert told CNN that 25 to 30 percent or more of the population has an underlying condition, such as obesity, that contributes to their risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
“There are plenty of younger people who have underlying conditions that put them at risk,” he added.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young people age 17 and younger makeup 8.4 percent of coronavirus cases in the U.S., while those ages 18-29 make up more than 23 percent.
A study released by the CDC last week found more than 120 people aged 21 and younger died of COVID-19 between February and July. Most had underlying health conditions or were people of color, according to the report.
The president’s claim came just one day before the U.S. hit the grim milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths.
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