Wednesday, August 4

What we know about COVID-19 infections in young people and how to stop them

1) Does SARS-CoV-2 infect young people more now?

Experts attribute the increase in infections in the younger population to de-escalation and the social habits associated with summer, but above all to the fact that “they are not yet vaccinated,” says pediatrician Ángel Hernández Merino, Member of the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics.

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There are no variations in the transmission pattern of SARS-CoV-2: no change in its biology causes it to infect young people more; simply, “there are more cases among young people because the coronavirus is transmitted among the population that still has no defenses against it,” explains Hernández.

2) Is covid-19 more serious in young people now?

The severity of COVID-19 tends to increase with age, especially above 40 years. This has not changed: “It is very rare that there is serious disease among young people, but when many people are infected and the numbers grow, then rare cases appear,” says Hernández.

3) Why is so much importance given to the increase in infections among those under 35?

If the majority of young people pass the infection with mild symptoms, and the vulnerable population is vaccinated, why are we alarmed? Although they are few, there are still young people who are seriously ill. But, in addition, and although the practically all those over 70 years of age are already vaccinated with both doses, the experts recall that there is a vulnerable population by age that is not yet protected with the complete guideline. People between the ages of 60 and 69 are being vaccinated with AstraZeneca, a vaccine that confers immunity after two doses that, according to the latest recommendation of the Public Health Commission, can be separated from 10-12 weeks to 8-12 weeks.

On the other hand, the efficacy of vaccines is not 100%. Counting on a 90% efficiency at least 10% of the vaccinated population remains that does not generate immunity. This population is the one that would be at risk if it comes into contact with the virus, and the probability of this happening “is greater the greater the transmission among unvaccinated groups,” says Ángela Domínguez, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the University of Barcelona, ​​and coordinator of the vaccination working group of the Spanish Epidemiology Society.

4) Does it make sense to vaccinate young people even if they are not seriously affected by the disease?

Experts insist that the main weapon against the pandemic is vaccination. “It is probably not possible to eradicate the virus, but it is possible to control its spread in the community, for which the percentage of the non-immunized population must be reduced to a minimum”, explains Ángel Hernández.

They also mention the importance of vaccination when guaranteeing face-to-face educational activities for the younger population. Without forgetting, of course, hygiene and prevention measures, such as the use of a mask, social distance, hand washing and ventilation of closed spaces.

5) Is vaccination in adolescents safe?

Trials of vaccines in children and adolescents started later than in adults, and therefore there are fewer results. But the ones that exist “are positive,” says Domínguez. “Vaccines are very safe.”

The eighth and most recent strategy update vaccination [junio de 2021] contemplates the vaccination with the Comirnaty vaccine of adolescents and preadolescents (from 12 years of age) “in conditions of very high risk; situation of great dependence; and those in centers for people with intellectual disabilities, supervised centers and special education centers “.

The strategy reports on the surveillance, by the European and American regulatory agencies, of the notification of several cases of myocarditis / pericarditis in adolescents a few days after the administration of vaccines against COVID-19, especially after the second dose. In all cases the disease was mild, “with a short duration and towards cure”, and its association with vaccines against COVID-19 is still being evaluated. “At this time an association between these diseases and vaccination has not been established,” says the document, but research is continuing.

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