Understanding Hospitalizations of Young Adults in COVID-19

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School resumes and with conversations about boosters, the Delta variant, and when we can immunize more children, we are entering uncharted territory in the United States for the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we move closer to two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are learning more about hospitalization and the impact of the disease on various patient populations. This year, many students will return to campus and live in dormitories, which many universities require.

Like so many others during this latest wave, young adults have been hit by the surge in the number of cases. Now more than ever, it will be important to understand the outcomes for those infected and hospitalized with COVID-19. A new research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine directly addressed clinical outcomes in young adults hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United States.

In people aged 18 to 24 in the United States, the research team analyzed the clinical profiles and outcomes of 3,222 people. These young adults were hospitalized with COVID-19 between April 1 and June 30, 2020 using the Premier Healthcare database, which pulls data from 1,030 U.S. hospitals. The researchers used the ICD-10 codes. Define outcomes and comorbidities and ultimately assessed over 780,000 discharges during this period. The average age was 28.3 years and 57.6% were male and 57% were black or Hispanic. 36.8% were obese.

The authors noted “During hospitalization, 684 patients (21%) required intensive care, 331 (10%) required mechanical ventilation and 88 (2.7%) died. Vasopressors or inotropes were used for 217 patients (7%), central venous catheters for 283 (9%) and arterial catheters for 192 (6%). The median length of stay was 4 days (interquartile range, 2 to 7 days). Of those who survived hospitalization, 99 (3%) were referred to a follow-up care facility. Morbid obesity (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 2:30; 95% CI, 1.77-2.98; vs no obesity; PPP= 0.001) were associated with an increased risk of death or mechanical ventilation. The odds of death or mechanical ventilation did not vary significantly by race and ethnicity. Morbid obesity was present in 140 patients (41%) who died or required ventilation. Diabetes was associated with an increased risk of this finding on univariate analysis (OR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.41-2.36; PP= .06). “

When we examine these findings regarding hospitalized young adults, we find a considerable amount of substantial rates of adverse outcomes. 21% of young adults hospitalized required intensive care and 10% required mechanical ventilation.

Overall this indicates that young adults can experience and suffer serious consequences and now more than ever we need to invest in vaccination campaigns and prevention strategies that would target this patient population.


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