Minority children and young adults are responsible for an overwhelming majority of coronavirus deaths among Americans under 21, a new report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals.
While children and young people have not been hit as hard by the virus, the differences seen in older adults are even greater in the risks of death from younger victims, the new report suggests.
But few under the age of 21 who were killed by the virus were in perfect health. The CDC report found that 75 percent of the young people who died of the infection had at least one underlying health condition.
As children and young adults go back to elementary and college schools, the findings, published Tuesday, are reassuring to those in impeccable health, but underscore how serious the risks of the coronavirus are for those with health problems and for people of color.
Older children were more likely to die from COVID-19, likely because they were more likely to be exposed to the virus, the CDC found
The CDC collected data on 120 people under the age of 21 who died from COVID-19 in the US.
Among them, 12 of those who died were babies who died of the coronavirus before their first birthday, representing 10 percent of all fatalities under the age of 21.
Children between the ages of one and nine accounted for about 20 percent of the total deaths, and 70 percent were between the ages of 10 and 20.
Coronavirus infections are believed to be predominantly mild in children, with the exception of those who develop MIS-C – multisystem inflammation syndrome in children – a rare and dangerous complication of infections that has affected hundreds of children who contracted the coronavirus and were even fatal for a handful of them .
In the CDC study, only 15 of the deceased children had been diagnosed with the rare condition.
Boys died slightly more than girls from the coronavirus, accounting for 63 percent of the fatalities investigated by the CDC.
Nearly half (45 percent) of the under-21s were Hispanic, nearly a third (29 percent) were Black, and four percent were American Indian / Alaska-born.
Only 25 percent of the children had no prior health problems, and 45 percent had two or more chronic health problems, the CDC found.
Common underlying health problems included asthma and other lung diseases, obesity, neurological or developmental disorders, or heart disease.
What is unclear is what the overlapping demographics of underlying health problems and race were.
Black and Hispanic people in the US, in particular, are more likely to suffer from chronic health problems than their white counterparts. For example, high blood pressure is about twice as common in black people as it is in whites.
A poorer immune system and higher baseline inflammation levels make people with underlying health conditions more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Higher rates of chronic disease are, in turn, driven in part by higher poverty rates and lower insurance coverage among black and Hispanic Americans.
In connection with that, minority Americans are more likely to have “essential” health or service jobs that require them to go to their workplace and interact with more people.
They are then more likely to bring the coronavirus home, often to multi-generational families, including both the elderly and children, such as those included in the study.
Not only are their working parents more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus, they will be exposed again and again. Previous research has found that the more a person – young or old – is inundated with coronavirus and its contagious particles, the more likely he or she is to become dangerously ill.
“ In infants, children and adolescents hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and cases of MIS-C, individuals from racial and minority ethnic groups are over-represented, ” the authors of the CDC report wrote.
These racial / ethnic groups are also disproportionately represented among essential workers unable to work from home, resulting in a higher risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 with possible secondary transmission among household members including infants, children, adolescents and young adults. .
In addition, inequalities in social health determinants, such as overcrowded living conditions, food and housing insecurity, wealth and education gaps, and racial discrimination, are likely to contribute to racial and ethnic inequalities in COVID-19 and MIS-C.
The report’s authors added that all this was only exacerbated by the difficulties in getting health care disproportionately faced by minorities, including: “ Difficulties and delays in accessing health care due to lack of insurance, childcare, transportation, or paid sick leave, and social determinants of health that contribute to a higher prevalence of medical conditions. ‘
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