New Study Says Young Adults Vulnerable To Severe COVID-19, Too

( While at first it was thought to only hit older people hard, coronavirus has now proven to have devastating effects in younger adults, too.

A new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that one in three young adults is at risk of having severe COVID-19. According to the research, which was published Monday, smoking plays a huge role in the severity of that risk.

There more than 8,000 participants ages 18 to 25 in the National Health Interview Survey. The researchers, who were from the University of California, San Francisco, wanted to compare risk indicators that were set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and see what the medical vulnerability of the survey participants was. That included things such as smoking habits and general health conditions.

According to researchers, 32% of the study participants were considered “medically vulnerable” to a severe case of COVID-19. What was alarming, though, was that when you removed people who either smoked e-cigarettes or cigarettes out of the study, that percentage dropped all the way to 16%.

As the report reads:

“The difference between estimates is driven largely by the sizeable portion of young adults who reported that they engaged in past 30-day smoking (1 in 10) and past 30-day e-cigarette use (1 in 14). By contrast, relatively fewer young adults reported medical conditions identified by the CDC as conferring severe illness risk.”

The group at highest risk were young adult men. While more women reported issues such as immune conditions and asthma, the higher rate of smoking in the men overrode that fact.

In terms of non-smokers, women had a higher risk of severe COVID-19 than men did. As the lead author of the study, Sally Adams, said in a press release:

“Recent evidence indicates that smoking is associated with a higher likelihood of COVID-19 progression, including increased illness severity, ICU admission or death. Smoking may have significant effects in young adults, who typically have low rates for most chronic diseases.”

The population in the study that had the highest vulnerability was white young adults between 18 and 25. The study reads:

“Our finding of lower medical vulnerability of racial/ethnic minorities compared with the white subgroup, despite controlling for income and insurance status, was unexpected. It is also inconsistent with research showing higher rates of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality and other chronic illnesses among racial/ethnic minorities, specific to one age group.”

The researchers said these findings were also inconsistent with the age group of 15 to 24. In that group, it was shown that Black and Hispanic Americans had the highest rates of deaths from COVID-19. Researchers said:

“This suggests that factors other than the CDC’s medical vulnerability criteria play a role in the risk of severe COVID-19 illness in the young adult population.”

There was some lack of information in the 18 to 25 age range in terms of COVID-19, though. There’s also the possibility that the study could’ve underestimated the vulnerability rates for particular racial or ethnic subgroups of this age range because of the source of data.