HOUSTON — Doctors are reporting seeing a frightening trend in hospitals -- COVID patients are younger and sicker. But what does the science say? Let’s connect the dots.
In recent weeks, doctors have reported that as the Delta variant spreads across the country, the patients showing up in ICUs are younger and have more severe illness. That's a big change from the start of the pandemic when it was older patients with underlying conditions that fared the worst.
Now doctors say they are seeing patients in their twenties and thirties who are deteriorating more rapidly. And they all have one thing in common -- they are unvaccinated.
Vaccination trends may be driving the change in demographics in the ICUs. More than 80 percent of Americans, ages 65 to 74 are now fully vaccinated. But when it comes to younger adults -- we’re talking between the ages of 18 and 39 -- the rate drops to fewer than half. Since the vaccines have proven very effective at preventing hospitalizations, the cases ended up in the hospital will tend to be among the young.
But some doctors are starting to believe that the Delta variant behaves differently than the original version of COVID-19. There is not a lot of research yet, but earlier indications show they may be right.
A study in Scotland found patients with delta were at nearly twice the risk of being hospitalized. A preliminary study in Canada found the risk of being admitted to intensive care was four times higher with Delta.