Younger people are at risk of severe disease from Covid-19 and need to be protecting themselves, World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva on Thursday.
“Although older people are at a higher risk of severe disease, younger people are at risk too,” Tedros said. “One of the challenges we face is convincing younger people of this risk.”
There is evidence, he said, that suggests spikes in cases in some countries are being driven partly by younger people letting their guard down. They should take the same precautions as everyone else to protect themselves and others.
“We have said it before and we’ll say it again: young people are not invincible,” said Tedros. “Young people can be infected, young people can die and young people can transmit the virus to others.”
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for Covid-19, reiterated that young people should be taking precautions and managing their own risk.
“What we know about young people is that young people can infected, young people can transmit the virus to others, the majority of young people who are infected tend to have more mild disease, but that is not always consistent,” she said. “We know that young people can develop severe disease, we know that young people can end up in ICU and we know that young people can die.”
She also said that they are learning more about the long-term effects of the disease, even in people who had mild disease. A number of patient groups have formed with people who are having long term effects, including extreme fatigue or shortness of breath. WHO has reached out to some of these groups so they can hear about their experiences directly and use them for future planning around rehabilitation and longer term care.