The young getting infected in greater numbers

This will help in building herd immunity, say doctors, who underline the need for isolating the elderly

September 02, 2020 01:39 am | Updated 01:39 am IST - Bengaluru

Students attending preparatory classes ahead of their final exams, as the teacher wears a PPE kit, at Maharani Science College, in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Students attending preparatory classes ahead of their final exams, as the teacher wears a PPE kit, at Maharani Science College, in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Contrary to what was earlier projected by experts that the elderly, especially those with comorbidities, are most susceptible to COVID-19, those in the age group of 21-30 seem to be driving the pandemic in the State.

According to the State COVID-19 war room data (updated till August 28) Karnataka reported 3,18,752 cases, of which 86,347 were active as on that day. The highest number of cases - 71,936 - were reported in the 21-30 age group. In the 31-40 age group, there were 69,835 cases, and another 55,032 cases in the 41-50 group. There were 40,040 cases who were aged above 60 years.

Doctors said this is mainly because young people are more mobile and socially active. “They are the ones who go out to work and are likely to get more exposed to the virus. Also some of them tend to violate precautions. They use mobile phones, take off their masks and eat in common places and hence are more likely to interact with others,” said C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force.

While this may seem to be a worrying trend, it is good in terms of getting herd immunity, said V. Ravi, senior professor and head of Neuro Virology at NIMHANS, who is part of the State’s COVID-19 expert committee.

“The younger lot may be getting infected in high numbers but they are also recovering fast as they have less severe illness and more favourable outcomes. There is a positive side to this - if more people get infected and recover, herd immunity is not far away. What is important is that they should not pass the infection on to the elderly in their families or to those with comorbidities as the infection is usually severe in this category of the population. The key is to seek medical advice early and get started on treatment as soon as a person develops symptoms,” said Dr. Ravi.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) also stated that globally people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, most of them asymptomatic, are driving the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mortality higher in elderly

While the infection rate is higher in the younger lot, mortality is the highest among those aged above 60 years. Of the total 5,368 deaths reported till August 28, 2,692 were above 60 years. In contrast, 131 deaths in the 21-30 age group, 382 in the 31-40 age group and 776 in the 41-50 age group have been reported till then.

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