Does the Delta variant make younger adults sicker, faster? -Health News, Firstpost

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Doctors said almost all patients who come here are unvaccinated, younger, and mostly 20 or 30 years old.

Recently, a 28-year-old patient died COVID-19 At CoxHealth Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri. Last week, a 21-year-old student was placed in intensive care.

Many patients with COVID-19 now, hospital admissions are not just unvaccinated – they are well under the age of 50, which is a stark difference from the weak, elderly patients who were first seen in a pandemic last year.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, young adults who do not have any of the usual risk factors for serious forms of the disease — such as obesity or diabetes — also arrive at hospitals desperately ill. It is not clear why they are so sick.

Doctors working in COVID hot spots across the country say the patients in their hospitals are not the same as the patients they saw last year. Almost always unvaccinated new entrants tend to be younger, many in their 20s or 30s. And they look sicker than younger patients were last year and deteriorated faster.

Doctors have come up with a new phrase to describe them: “younger, sicker, faster.” Many doctors treating them suspect a delta variant coronavirus , which now accounts for more than 80% of new infections nationwide, plays an important role.

Studies in a few other countries suggest that the variant may cause more serious diseases, but there is no definitive data to suggest that the new variant would be somehow worse in young adults.

Some experts believe that the demographic change in patients is definitely due to lower vaccination rates in this group.

On Sunday, more than 80% of Americans aged 65-74 were fully vaccinated, while less than half of 18-39 year olds were according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures.

Vaccines are effective against serious illness and death after infection with any variant of the virus, including delta. The majority of hospitalized patients nationwide – approximately 97% – are unvaccinated.

“I don’t think there’s still good evidence that it causes more serious diseases,” Dr. Adam Ratner, an assistant professor of pediatrics and microbiology at Grossman School of Medicine at New York University, said of the delta transformation.

“This can be behavior – a combination of us opening things up, and in some places they’re open and don’t have masks, which is different from a year or 15, 16 months ago,” he added.

But recently, the delta variant has provided researchers with a number of unpleasant surprises, and questions about the variant’s virulence and ability to cause more serious diseases are gaining new urgency.

An internal CDC document obtained by The New York Times last week described the delta variant as contagious as chickenpox and said it “can cause more serious diseases than alpha or ancestral strains.”

According to the CDC, those over 65 years of age represented half of all patients in hospital at the end of January, while those under 50 years of age represented 22%. The elderly now account for just over a quarter of hospitalized patients, while the proportion of 18-49 year olds is 41%.

“Something about this virus is different in this age group,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, chief physician at the Lake Lady Medical Center in Baton Rouge. “We always saw some people who just said,‘ Why in the world did this get them? “But it was rare. Now we see it more often.”

“I think it’s the new COVID,” he added.

Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of medicine at the University of Arkansas, said the average age of patients admitted to the UAMS Medical Center in the winter was 60 years. is now 40.

“We think younger, healthier people are more susceptible to the delta variant than they’ve been around before,” Patterson said.

The first case of the delta variant was detected at a university hospital on May 1, and by June 17, almost all infections were caused by the variant. “The change we saw toward younger patients and people who got sick faster hit almost exactly the birth of the delta here in Arkansas,” Patterson said. “This feels like a completely different disease to us.”

Donald McAvoy, 33, a bodybuilder named Frue, who runs a gym in Jacksonville, Florida, didn’t bother to get the COVID vaccine because he thought the virus only affected seniors with health problems.

But towards the end of June, he had a runny nose that he thought was cold or allergic. The girlfriend insisted on getting her coronavirus test. It was positive and he was sent home with a small pulse oximeter that monitored the oxygen level in the blood.

Within days, his condition worsened and he fell to the bedroom floor. His blood oxygen levels were at the bottom: 56. Normal reading is 95 or higher.

On the shores of Baptist Medical Center, he was given oxygen and taken to an intensive care unit where he spent 11 days, a trial he described as “the most frightening thing I have ever experienced, not just physically but mentally”. His doctor told McAvoy he had received the delta variant.

He was released on July 8, tied to an oxygen tank. She has lost 25 pounds and has been warned that it will take 4-6 weeks of rest and respiratory treatment before she can return to work. He fears it could be longer.

“This is a much more equal opportunity virus,” said Dr. Angie Honsberg, director of intensive care at the University of Las Vegas Medical Center.

In the past, during a pandemic, patients came to the hospital after spending a week or two at home with symptoms. They were often treated on a regular floor for some time before the need for intubation or intensive care.

Like McAvoy, his younger patients get sick much faster, Honsberg said. “I suspect the delta variant is likely to behave a little differently,” he said.

In Springfield, Dr. Terrence Coulter, director of critical care at CoxHealth, a 500-person hospital, said COVID-19 Hospital patients were younger and more ill than during the previous wave.

“They thought in the first round that young patients and children would get it and didn’t even know they had it or they had a mild illness,” Coulter said. “In the Delta variant, that’s not the case. It is undoubtedly much more severe than the original version. “

Many patients in hospital have underlying conditions such as diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure, which are risk factors for serious illness, he said. But some younger patients do not have any of these risk factors.

“It really scares me,” he said. “It hits younger healthy people who wouldn’t think they would get such a bad response to the disease.” They often face prolonged recoveries, Coulter added, and some have permanent lung damage.

In the United States, the delta variant is a relatively new entrant, and evidence of whether and how it behaves differently continues to accumulate. It is more contagious, experts agree. A few studies have shown that infected people can carry the variant in large amounts in their airways.

The variant can also cause more serious diseases, some researchers have suggested. A study in Scotland, published in The Lancet, looked at COVID cases in the spring, when Delta became the country’s dominant position.

Patients infected with the variant had an almost double risk of hospitalization compared to those infected with the previous alpha variant. Patients were also younger, probably because they were the last to be vaccinated, the authors said.

In a preliminary online study that has not yet been peer-reviewed, Canadian researchers found that the risk of accessing intensive care was nearly four times higher in patients with the delta variant compared to patients infected with the other variants. Patients with the delta variant had a twice as high risk of hospitalization or death.

A study in Singapore, published in The Lancet, concluded that patients with the delta variant were more likely to need oxygen, intensive care, or death. A study in India, also published online and not yet peer-reviewed, found that in the second wave of infection, when the delta variant was predominant, patients were at higher risk of dying, especially those under 45 years of age.

But what appears to be greater virulence may simply be the result of greater infectivity of the delta variant, some experts say. As more and more people become infected, the number of seriously ill people will certainly increase, even if the variant itself does not cause more serious illnesses than previous versions of the virus.

“I have not seen evidence that the delta is selectively targeted at children and adolescents as well as young adults,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “My impression is that this virus is so easily transmitted that everyone who is not vaccinated gets this, including young people.”

McAvoy was relieved to see his 2-year-old daughter again. But with no income for more than a month, he is left behind on rent and utility payments, and medical fees that are not covered by insurance are accrued. Friends have set up a GoFundMe page for him.

McAvoy, who has become an avid champion of vaccines, has urged his friends and family to wear masks and be vaccinated. “The virus doesn’t discriminate,” he said.

Roni Caryn Rabin No. 2021 The New York Times Company

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