WHO warns of possible lasting damage of Covid-19 on young people

WHO warns of possible lasting damage of Covid-19 on young people.
WHO warns of possible lasting damage of Covid-19 on young people.
Shannon Fagan/Getty Images

We learn more about the coronavirus each day, but the long-term effects of Covid-19 remain unknown.

Evidence so far suggests it mainly affects the cardiovascular system, also known as the circulatory system, that’s made up of blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart. Now, new research raises concerns about the lasting impact of the virus, even in mild cases.

A German study compared the hearts of 100 people – with an average age of 49 who had recovered from Covid-19 – with the hearts of a group of 100 similar individuals who had not been infected.

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More than two months later, researchers found that the individuals who had the virus were more prone to troubling cardiac signs. Seventy-eight patients showed structural changes to their hearts; 76 had evidence of a biomarker signalling cardiac injury typically found after a heart attack; and 60 had signs of inflammation, Stat News reported. All these patients were relatively young and previously had no heart problems.

Other studies have suggested that young people – aged 10 to 19 – are the main culprits of “super spreading” the virus, and concern has been raised that many are not taking Covid-19 seriously. This has been highlighted by recent reports suggesting that more young Europeans are testing positive for the coronavirus.

“We have said it before and we'll say it again: young people are not invincible. Young people can be infected, young people can die and young people can transmit the virus to others,” warns World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Read more | New studies suggest that most people with Covid-19 won't spread it, but few will spread it to many

It’s too early to understand the long-term effects of the virus in young people who have recovered, but the following list has been identified: extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulties resuming normal activities like going to gym or going back to work.

“We are asking for all people, including young people, to be their own risk manager,” says Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's Covid-19 technical lead, “To really understand what the risk is for you in terms of catching this virus, what your risk of developing severe disease is and what your risk of transmitting this virus to somebody else is.”

The health body urges young people to wear masks, wash their hands regularly and avoid crowded places.

You can watch the full briefing on the German study here:

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