Story at a glance

  • WHO health officials warned young adults they “are not invincible.”
  • The message comes as data shows younger adults are also being affected by COVID-19.
  • U.S. health officials warned earlier this week younger adults could also be at serious risk of complications from the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning young people that they are not exempt from the risks of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 260,000 people and left more than 11,000 others dead.

“Today, I have a message for young people: You are not invincible.” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday during a news conference

“This coronavirus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else,” Tedros said. 

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WHO official said data from many countries clearly shows that people younger than 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization. 


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Tedros’ comments come after earlier research indicated young adults were largely spared from serious complications from the coronavirus, and adults older than 60 and those with underlying medical conditions, like diabetes or heart and lung disease, were mostly at risk. 

Earlier this week, U.S. health officials warned that younger adults could also be at serious risk of complications.

“There are concerning reports coming out of France and Italy about some young people getting seriously ill and very seriously ill in the ICUS,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx said Wednesday, urging young adults to heed the government’s guidance to avoid gathering in large groups

France’s top health official said last week more than 50 percent of serious coronavirus patients in intensive care were younger than 60. 

Tedros said he is grateful so many people are, “spreading the word and not the virus,” adding, “everyday, we are learning more about this coronavirus and the disease it causes. One of the things we are learning is that although older people are the hardest hit, younger people are not spared.”


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Published on Mar 20, 2020