Rate of COVID-19 Infection Higher in U.S. Youth Than Older Adults

THURSDAY, July 21, 2022 — The incidence rate and relative risk for COVID-19 infection from the original severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variant were significantly greater in U.S. adolescents and youth than in older adults, according to a study published online July 15 in JAMA Network Open.

Moshe Schneiderman, from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn, New York, and colleagues compared incidence rates and relative risk for infection among U.S. adolescents and youth (aged 10 to 24 years) and older adults (aged 60 years or older) for wild-type SARS-CoV-2. The analysis included data on persons living in 19 U.S. states that experienced surges from the start of the pandemic through fall 2020.

The researchers found that in 16 of 19 states, the incidence rate ratio (IRR) of COVID-19 infection in adolescents and youth was significantly greater than in older adults. In Florida, the incidence rate in adolescents and youth was 0.055 versus 0.028 in older adults, with adolescents and youth having 1.94 times the risk for contracting COVID-19 versus older adults.

“These results suggest that, contrary to reports from Europe and Asia, infection rates and relative risk among U.S. adolescents and youth exceeded that in older adults from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through fall 2020, before vaccines were available,” the authors write.

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