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Coronavirus: Not ‘Only’ the Elderly Are in Danger

Ábrahám Vass 2020.03.23.

In the wake of the news about the recent positive tests of youngsters and controversial claims that the coronavirus is not particularly dangerous to the younger generations, recent data show that they are “not spared” either. 

While there are an increasing number of articles worldwide about the infection among the younger generations, in Hungary, this first received publicity after PMO Chief Gergely Gulyás’ regular press briefing last week. He claimed that “we also see and can say that in fact those who are here in the room right now, can infect each other, resulting in at most the symptoms of an unpleasant flu, unless someone has another illness.”

Although the average age of those Hungarians who have died of the coronavirus is 69 years (in Italy this is just under 80 years) at the moment, Gulyás has come under criticism after the statement, as it has long been shown that the younger generations can also be infected. For example, in China, the youngest victim was only 14 years old (and 19% of the fatal cases were below the age of 60).

Although in the early times of the epidemic, the news coming from China indeed suggested that the disease is not particulary dangerous for youngsters, but they are targeted as well and an infection could potentially lead to tough consequences. According to Bloomberg, in the U.S., 705 of the first 2,500 cases range in age from 20 to 44. And between 15% and 20% of them ended up in the hospital, including as many as 4% needing intensive care. A similar tendency can be detected in Italy, where almost a quarter of the nearly 28,000 coronavirus patients are between the ages of 19 and 50.

Then on Thursday, a child was diagnosed in Budapest’s 15th district with coronavirus and on Friday, another one, aged 13. They are, however, not the only Hungarians under 40 with confirmed coronanavirus infection. On March 17, a man aged 38 and his friend, a female of 35 years, also tested positive in Szombathely. As of now, there is no news on how serious their condition is.

While fatalities are indeed proportionately low in the younger generations (in Italy, as of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from the disease, while all the victims under 40 have had serious pre-existing medical conditions in the country hardest hit by the pandemic), an increasing number of experts tend to warn youngsters not to trivialize it anymore. Moreover, the consequences of catching the infection are also not to be underestimated. It often results in, for example, double pneumonia, which can be very harmful, and might cause future complications and permanent damage to important organs.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also recently warned youngsters, saying that “although older people are hardest hit, younger people are not spared.” He also added his message for young people: “you are not invincible, this virus could put you in the 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.”

featured image via MTI/György Varga 


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