January 15, 2021 by John Fernandez
COVID-19 Roundup: Young Adults Increasingly Test Positive; Children’s Stronger Immunity; and Warning Against ‘Trick-or-Treating’
CDC: Younger Adults Made Up Largest Group of COVID-19 Cases June-August
Adults between ages 20 and 29 represented the largest category of new COVID-19 cases — more than 20 percent — between June and August, says a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The average age of confirmed patients diagnosed with the coronavirus decreased from 46 years in May to 38 years in August, according to the CDC.
The agency said researchers examined age trends during the May–August period for all 50 states using three indicators: COVID-19–like illness-related emergency-department ED visits; positive COVID-19 tests; and confirmed COVID-19 cases submitted by state health departments.
These findings have “important clinical and public health implications,” the CDC states. That’s partially becausee younger adults at higher risk for exposure to the coronavirus make up a large proportion of workers in “frontline occupations,” such as retail stores, restaurant/bars, public transit, child care, and social services, the CDC said.
Additionally,, younger adults might also be less likely to follow community mitigation strategies, such as social distancing and avoiding group gatherings. They are also more likely to have mild or no symptoms, which means they can unknowingly contribute to presymptomatic or asymptomatic transmission to others, including people who are at higher risk for severe illness — such as older adults and those with underlying health issues.
The CDC concluded that “strict adherence to community mitigation strategies and personal preventive behaviors by younger adults is needed to help reduce infection and subsequent transmission to persons at higher risk for severe illness.”
Study: Children Equipped With Robust ‘Innate Immunity’ to Fight Coronavirus
New research has helped shed some light on why children normally have a milder response to COVID-19. The first study has been published that compares the immune responses of adults and children diagnosed with COVID-19.
Compared with adult patients, pediatric COVID-19 patients studied carried “significantly higher levels of certain cytokines associated with the innate immune response,” says a news release from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, which took part in the study with scientists from Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) in New York City, and Yale University. Their findings are published in the in Science Translational Medicine.
Their conclude indicates that young people’s more robust immune response protects them from developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) — which can lead to severe and often fatal COVID-19 cases.
The study focused on 60 adult COVID-19 patients and 65 pediatric COVID-19 patients who were younger than 24. Both groups were hospitalized at CHAM and Montefiore Health System between March 13 and May 17, 2020. Their blood was tested for several types of immune cells, antibody responses, and the inflammatory proteins, known as cytokines, that immune cells produce.
The children with COVID-19 fared much better. Twenty-two adults (37 percent) required mechanical ventilation, compared with only five (8 percent) of the pediatric patients. Moreover, 17 adults (28 percent) died in the hospital, compared with two (3 percent) of the pediatric patients.
The key to understanding the study’s findings comes down to the two types of immunity -— innate and adaptive — that the body develops over time. Innate immunity, in which immune cells respond rapidly to invading pathogens of all types, is more robust during childhood. Adaptive immunity is more precise, containing antibodies and immune cells that target specific viruses or other microbes.
“These results suggest that the more severe COVID-19 disease seen in adults is not caused by a failure of their adaptive immunity to mount T-cell or antibody responses,” said Kevan C. Herold, M.D., professor of Immunology and of Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, who was the co-senior author on the study. “Rather, adult patients respond to coronavirus infection with an over-vigorous adaptive immune response that may promote the inflammation associated with ARDS.”
CDC Warns: Traditional Halloween Activities Can Be ‘High-Risk’ for Spreading COVID-19
With Halloween approaching in a few weeks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance for this year, stating that traditional activities, including large gatherings and trick-or-treating, can put participants at a high risk for COVID-19.
On its website, the CDC ranks a range of Halloween activities under three risk levels: low, moderate and high. Halloween, Oct. 31, falls on a Saturday this year.
“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses,” the CDC states. ” There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween. If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.”
Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, the CDC states:
- Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
- Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
- Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
- Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19