More young people are being hospitalized in the US due to a new prevailing strain

Ilustração em 3D representando o novo coronavírus
A 3D illustration of the new Coronavirus
Photo: Communication Science Communication / Reuters

Strain B.1.1.7 was previously only known as a mysterious type of Coronavirus that was first detected in the United Kingdom, and is now the most prevalent in the United States. And unlike the original coronavirus strain, B.1.1.7, which is more contagious, reaches young adults more vigorously.

“There has been an increase in Covid-19 cases and emergency room visits,” said Dr. Rochelle Wallinsky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCs). “There is an increase in the number of young people, and most of them are still not immune.”

Doctors say many young people are suffering from Covid-19 complications they didn’t expect. Therefore, it is time to abandon the belief that only the elderly or people with pre-existing illnesses are at risk of contracting severe Covid-19 virus.

Why is B.1.1.7 more contagious

Viruses change all the time, and most mutations are not so important. But if it matters, it could lead to dangerous new variants.

Jonathan Rayner, medical analyst at // CNN He is Professor of Medicine and Surgery at George Washington University.

“Think of this mutation as something that makes the virus stickier.” The coronavirus attaches to cells using its spiky proteins – the spines that surround the surface of the virus.

“There is a slight difference in the way the spike protein B.1.1.7 stays, which makes it attach to cells a little more easily,” said Dr. Megan Rani, director of the Brown Livesspan Center for Digital Health.

With the original strain of the new coronavirus, “It takes a certain vaccine (a certain amount of the virus) to continue the infection,” continued Rainer, from George Washington University. “Are viral particles enough to make you sick? Most likely not. On the other hand, sometimes a massive vaccine can kill a healthy person.” He remembers that we saw this in health professionals.

“These new variants, particularly the UK variant, appear to be more stable, so to speak. Hence the idea that they are more contagious, because it is likely that not many vaccinations would be required to make a person sick.”

What this means in practice, according to Dr. Rainer, is that “a person can be in one place and an exposure may be for a shorter or shorter period, an accidental exposure, and then become infected.” Additionally, because B.1.1.7 is more viscous, a person may have a higher viral load.

“If you have more viral particles in your respiratory system, it will be easier to spread them to other people,” Dr. Rani sums up. This is another reason why vaccinating young people is so important.

More youth acceptance

Cases of B.1.1.7 have already been reported in all 50 states in the United States, according to the CDC. What we’re seeing now in many places is young people are sick and being taken to hospital. “At the start of the epidemic, they were mostly old people,” Rainer said.

“The reason for this could be very simple and relates to the fact that the elderly population of this country has either been exposed to this virus, were killed by it, or have now been vaccinated against it.”

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As of April 10, more than 78% of people age 65 and over had received at least one dose of the vaccine in the United States, and 60% had been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. “The unvaccinated are the infected people and we are seeing a large number of young people who are in hospitals now.”

In March, New Jersey saw a 31% increase in hospital admissions for Covid-19 among young people between the ages of 20 and 29, according to the state’s health secretary. The 40-49 age group saw a 48% increase in hospitalizations for Covid-19.

Dr. Rani said she also noticed a significant change in who was admitted to the hospital. “There has been a gradual increase in the proportion of young people in the past two months,” he said, citing data from COVID-NET, which tracks cases from more than 250 hospitals in 14 states in the United States.

Looking at the weeks of December 26 or January 2, the number of patients over the age of 65 was approximately 3,000. The number of other groups combined was 3000. In other words, more than 50% of patients in the hospital were over 65 years old. ”But on March 27,“ a third of them in the group were between 18 and 49 years old, another third were between 50 and 64 years old, and the last third. In the group over 65 years old, “he said.

As a doctor in the emergency room, Rani said she regularly sees previously healthy young patients battling the Coronavirus. He said, “I see at least a few people in every emergency shift and I work to identify who is there because they have persistent breathing problems or other side effects as a result of Covid-19.”

Rani said that he generally defines “youth” as those under the age of 50. But “no matter what age limit you use, now, we’re seeing more B.1.1.7 than the older variants.”

“And we’re seeing more in groups of 20 and 30, too. People in their 20s and 30s are less likely to be vaccinated and more likely to go out of the house.”

The vast majority of positive coronavirus tests do not undergo genetic sequencing to see if the disease is caused by 1.1.7 or another strain. But as genomic sequences increase across the country, health experts say there is no doubt that B.1.1.7 is generating more hospitalizations among young people.

Justin Scrzynski, a specialist in patient care for Covid-19 at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak in Michigan, says the site is sending a portion of coronavirus samples to the state for DNA analysis.

Skrzynski said: “At the moment, the regular Covid-19 test we are taking only shows whether it is Covid or not. But we have sent several of them to the state agency and we see nearly 40% of our patients now with B.1.1.7.”

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Dr Rainer said he believes both human behavior and the ‘sticky’ aspect of B.1.1.7 lead to more hospitalizations for Covid-19 among young adults. “The reason may simply be that more young people have become infected, and the vaccine (viral load) may be greater,” he said.

Sometimes, young men can fall prey to their strong immune system. During the pandemic, doctors have noted that some previously healthy young patients experienced cell storms during Covid-19. This mainly occurs when someone’s immune system overreacts, which can cause severe inflammation or other serious symptoms.

For Dr. Renner, as the prevalence of B.1.1.7 continues, more and more young adults can experience cellular storms. “We’ve seen people enter our hospital, and many young people (in their twenties) who have needed to be placed in an ECMO, which is essentially a heart-lung machine, for days or even weeks because they actually arrived with cardiomyopathy in response to a cytokine storm,” detail the physician and professor.

Life destroyed

As more young men are infected, doctors are wary of seeing another disturbing trend they’ve seen for months: long-term complications.

“I can’t even count the number of people I took care of in the emergency room who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s who were not sick enough to end up in the emergency room while contracting the Coronavirus, but now they have prolonged breathing difficulties,” Rani said.

“Or they have a permanent loss of taste and smell and lose weight because they lose the pleasure of eating. Or they still have the kind of mental fog that we hear about in Covid Long. It’s not universal. Not everyone who gets Covid-19 will experience this. But there is it.” The fact that this disease is not benign, regardless of whether or not a person is hospitalized in the intensive care unit.

“There is a false sense of thinking that you are immune because you are young or that you are getting a good result if you get sick. The person might be lucky. And it might be true, that is, the result will be good. But there is also the possibility that it will not happen.”

Dr. Rainer said that some long-term symptoms in young adults last for about a year. These are debilitating symptoms that appeared after infection with the Coronavirus. My message to young people is that Covid-19 must not kill you to ruin your life. “

Confusing messages

Health experts say it is imperative to continue exercising precautions against Covid-19 until more people are vaccinated. However, some states abandoned mandatory masking or reopened the bars at full capacity, just as B.1.1.7 was spreading rapidly.

For Dr. Rainer, this could potentially lead to the spread of virus B.1.1.7 among young adults. The youngest of those who go to bars. They are the people who gather for lunch. The elderly of this country have been in trouble for a year because they are worried about dying from this virus. Young people don’t care much about dying for this cause. There is a lot of fatigue from the epidemic. “

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Rainer said he understands that many businesses have been destroyed and need to reopen completely once they are safe. “But easing the requirements for masks does not make sense,” he said. “There are no economic or personal difficulties that prevent a person from wearing a mask in public places.”

Dr. Rani said the youths may misinterpret the suspension of other mandatory security measures. “Someone who hears this and doesn’t follow the data regularly, really thinks:” Well, the governor won’t unlock it if it’s not safe. I think it’s a really confusing message. “

Among children

It is not only young people who are affected by this type. More cases of B.1.1.7 are also emerging among children. “We are seeing more children who have tested positive for B.1.1.7 virus than we have seen for other viruses,” Rani said.

“This does not necessarily mean that children are more susceptible to B.1.1.7. But the reason is that they are more likely to be exposed to it because they are far from their homes and because this version is more transmissible.”

Although classroom learning is relatively safe when the right safety precautions are taken, health officials say after-school activities (such as exercise and other extracurricular activities) are making more children sick with the Covid-19 virus.

Although deaths from the disease among children are extremely rare, they do occur. Some children who have coronavirus have Sim-B, or pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, which is rare, but can sometimes lead to serious illness or death.

How to bypass B.1.1.7

There is good news about variable B.1.1.7: We don’t need new evidence to combat it. But we have to follow current evidence closely to turn off this highly contagious variant.

Dr Rani recalls: “Although it is more transferable, every piece of data that we already have supports the idea that we should be using the same technologies we do for other variables.”

Therefore, it is still necessary to wear masks, do physical distance, and stay in well-ventilated and vaccinated spaces. And our current vaccines – which is really critical – work very well against B.1.1.7. ”

But there is a problem: the longer the virus spreads, the greater its chances of developing new mutations. If the mutations are large, they could lead to more problematic variants, including some that could slip away from vaccine protection. “For me, that’s a warning sign. Rani said it’s a sure bet on what could happen.

B.1.1.7 “It spreads more easily. The number of cases is increasing. We are seeing some increases in hospitalizations, perhaps due to the spread of virus B.1.1.7. But vaccines work against it. There may be future variants that we are not lucky with.”

CNN’s Miguel Marquez contributed to this report

(Translated text. Read A native, In English).

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