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Majority of Young People Who Test Positive for COVID-19 Don’t Require Hospitalization

During the pandemic, one regional health system looked at the age distribution of the virus and hospitalization and mortality rates.

Investigators from the Spectrum Health System in Grand Rapids, MI, performed a retrospective analysis of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test results for COVID-19 in its regional health system laboratory from March 16 through November 15, 2020.

The data was presented at the 2021 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology conference virtual sessions.

A total of 484,824 PCR test results were reviewed, and 21,109 were positive. Test takers under the age of 30 accounted for 39% of positive tests, and 20% were from those 60 year and older.

As has been the findings in other studies and now widely known about the virus, older people were found to have higher hospitalization and mortality rates than younger people.

“Among those hospitalized, 11% were <30 years and 60% were ≥60 years, approximately six times more hospitalization for patients of older age (proportion p-value <0.001),” Chau Nguyen MS, CIC, FAPIC Epidemiologist, Infection Control and Prevention Spectrum Health System, Grand Rapids, MI, the lead investigator reported.

In terms of inpatient mortality rate, “for patients <30 years was 0% versus 13% for patients ≥60 years (p-value <0.001).” In addition, 92% of inpatient deaths were in patients 60 years old and above.

“Many young individuals test positive for COVID19; however, the majority do not require hospitalization. Furthermore, no deaths were observed, indicating that all recovered,” Nguyen wrote. “Unfortunately, older patients did not have the same outcome, highlighting that the high number of positive tests observed among younger patients are not associated with high numbers of admission and mortality.”

Nguyen stressed the importance of protecting the most vulnerable. “This indicates the gravity of strict adherence to prevention strategies and behaviors in the community to safeguard those at higher risk for hospitalization and associated mortality.”