Story at a glance

  • Fauci said researchers have to look at the young people who are getting seriously sick in Europe.
  • Fauci said there’s a difference between the demography in China and what’s being seen in Europe. Data based on China’s outbreak suggested older people were more at risk.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found nearly 4 in every 10 coronavirus cases that required hospitalization involved adults younger than 55.

Health officials in the United States say they are looking into reports that younger adults may be at more of a risk of severe illness from the coronavirus than initially estimated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found nearly 4 in every 10 coronavirus cases requiring hospitalization involved adults younger than 55. Health officials studied more than 4,000 cases in the U.S. as of March 16. Among the most critical cases, 12 percent of intensive care admissions were among those ages 20 to 44, while 36 percent were for those 45 to 64. 

The majority — about 80 percent of people in the U.S. who have died from COVID-19 — were 65 and older. 

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said the U.S. is “looking very closely” at the reports of young adults requiring hospitalization. 

“It looks like there is a big difference between that demography from China and what we’re seeing in Europe,” Fauci said Sunday when asked about the new CDC data on CBS’ “Face the Nation.

“Now we have to look at the young people who are getting seriously ill from the European cohort and make sure that it isn’t just driven by the fact that they have underlying conditions, because we know that underlying conditions — all bets are off no matter how young you are if you have an underlying, serious medical condition. You’re going to potentially get in trouble,” Fauci said. 


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The World Health Organization (WHO) warned young people last week they were not exempt from the risks of the coronavirus. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said data from many countries show adults younger than 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization. 

“Today, I have a message for young people: You are not invincible,” Tedros said during a news conference Friday. 

“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. 

U.S. health officials also warned last week younger adults could be at serious risk of complications following reports from France and Italy about young people becoming seriously ill in intensive care units.


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Published on Mar 23, 2020