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Young People Who Die From COVID-19 Have This In Common With Older Adult Deaths

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Younger generation dying from COVID-19 for same reasons as older generation.

A new study shows that more young people are actually dying from the coronavirus than commonly believed. Here is what the study reveals that young people who die from COVID-19 have in common with COVID-19 related deaths in older patients.


A Very Brief Summary of COVID Morbidity

During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the older generation was recognized as being especially susceptible to the coronavirus. Within a few months after, this susceptibility was found to be strongly associated with having three of the five risk factors of metabolic syndrome: obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and excess abdominal fat.

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Furthermore, studies have suggested that even if a COVID-19 vaccine were available, it might not protect many adults who have the vaccination.

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The Younger Generation is Dying Too

Today, however, new research shows that young people are also susceptible to the effects of COVID-19 including death. And, that a significant percentage of the young patients who die share the same risk factors of metabolic syndrome that are sounding the death knell for their parents and grandparents.

According to a news release from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, researchers have recently analyzed the medical records from 419 hospitals using the Premier Healthcare Database to study the clinical trajectories of 3,222 hospitalized COVID-19 patients aged 18-34.

The study—published in the research letter JAMA Internal Medicine—revealed that younger patients with COVID-19 are not faring as well as the public has been led to believe.

What they found was that:

• Over one-fifth of the patients (21 percent) required intensive care.

• 10 percent required mechanical ventilation.

• 2.7 percent died.

• 57 percent of the young people hospitalized for COVID-19 were Black or Hispanic.

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“There was a significant rate of adverse outcomes,” said Jonathan Cunningham, MD, a Cardiovascular Medicine fellow at the Brigham and first author on the letter. “Even though a 2.7 percent death rate is lower than for older patients, it’s high for young people who typically do well even when hospitalized for other conditions.”

What the Older and Younger Patients Have in Common

Perhaps more telling, are the results that showed that young people who were affected by the coronavirus shared the same metabolic syndrome risk factors associated with adult deaths related to COVID-19:

• 36.8 percent of the young patients were overweight/obese.

• 24.5 percent were categorized as morbidly obesity.

• 18.2 percent of the young patients had diabetes.

• 16.1 percent had hypertension.

• For individuals with more than one of these conditions, risks for adverse outcomes were comparable to the risks faced by middle-aged adults, aged 35-64, who had none of these conditions, as observed in a study of 8,862 members of this population.

The news release acknowledges that the data is preliminary and, “…only lends insight into the adverse outcomes of hospitalized young people,” who are infected with the coronavirus and in need of medical attention requiring hospitalization.

“We know nothing about the total denominator of patients who got an infection,” said corresponding author Scott Solomon, MD, director of noninvasive cardiology in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Brigham. “We think the vast majority of people in this age range have self-limited disease and don’t require hospitalization. But if you do, the risks are really substantial.”

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Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Courtesy of Photo by CDC on Unsplash


Young People Hospitalized With Covid-19 Face Substantial Adverse Outcomes” Brigham And Women's Hospital news release 8 Oct. 2020.

"Clinical Outcomes in Young US Adults Hospitalized With COVID-19" Cunningham, JW et al. The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.5313.