The coronavirus pandemic has moved into younger populations across much of the US, a change that could mean less serious illness and lower rates of death, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
“It is obvious that we are seeing right now infections that are targeting younger individuals,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said during a media telebriefing.
Younger people may not be taking the risk of pandemic spread as seriously as they should, CDC’s Dr. Jay Butler added. “We may need to get out the message that young people are not somehow naturally immune to this virus, although they may be at lower risk of severe infection,” he said.
The risk of serious complications and death rises with age, the CDC says, although there’s no clear age cutoff for higher or lower risk. People with diabetes, kidney disease, moderate to severe asthma, and obesity are also at higher risk.
In response to a question from CNN, Butler acknowledged that the US has a high proportion of younger people with obesity. “We have to recognize reality. Our nation isn’t as healthy as some other nations, particularly if you look at obesity and some other medical conditions,” he said.
It will be important to get the message out, Butler said. “Everyone needs to understand that there is still some risk of severe illness, including among younger people,” he said.
Butler said the CDC was exploring the use of social media tools such as TikTok to reach a younger audience.