Infectious Disease

Youthful adults have fueled the COVID-19 resurgence in the USA

February 13, 2021

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According to a study published in Science, people aged 20 to 49 were “the only age groups” who sustained the COVID-19 resurgence in the US last fall.

“We were intrigued by early studies that showed that children are far less likely to be infected with COVID-19 than adults, which is atypical of infectious diseases of the respiratory tract.” Alexandra Blenkinsop, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development, told Healio.

“We then reviewed studies of previous coronavirus SARS, particularly those suggesting that school closings had near-zero positive effects in delaying or mitigating SARS outbreaks,” Blenkinsop said. “This led us to speculate that the spread of COVID-19 differs from the spread of other respiratory infectious diseases in terms of age groups.”

Blenkinsop and colleagues used detailed, longitudinal, and age-specific data on population mobility and COVID-19 mortality to estimate how non-pharmaceutical interventions – as well as changing contact intensities, age, and other factors – influenced the COVID-19 resurgence.

According to Blenkinsop, the study showed that more than 65% of COVID-19 infections came from people aged 20 to 49, although they averaged only 40% of the population. In addition, the researchers found that the proportion of new infections between ages 35 and 49 were the highest drivers, an effect that was similar in all states, although infections between ages 20 and 34 were found in southern and western states were higher compared to the rest of the US
According to Blenkinsop, the researchers estimated that people aged 20 to 49 were the only people who consistently had reproductive numbers greater than 1, an effect that was consistent over time, even after the school reopened in the fall and geographically consistent.
“We have seen in many countries that non-pharmaceutical interventions and the correct wearing of masks have been effective in reducing the spread of new infections,” said Blenkinsop, adding that these widespread age groups are being addressed with measures that help adults manage daily household expenses B. ensuring uninterrupted unemployment benefits could help working adults stay home when necessary and reduce the spread.

“With the evidence we have presented, it does not appear justified to open non-essential services such as restaurants or bars while school closings are mandated or encouraged,” said Blenkinsop.

She added that after vaccinating older populations at risk, the spread could be “significantly reduced” if adults between the ages of 20 and 49 are vaccinated, provided that vaccines are shown to adequately block transmission.

“Even with the introduction of vaccination programs, there is an important need for measures to restrict contacts and thus the transmission of 20 to 49 year olds,” said Blenkinsop. “If resources are available, vaccinating these groups will also be effective in reducing the burden of infection.”

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