Highest Covid-19 infection rate found in young adults

Young people between 17 and 29 were the most common age group to be infected with Covid-19, study finds

Tes Reporter

Coronavirus: The highest rate of infection was among those aged 17 to 29, according to a Public Health England study, which has sparked fears about the safety of reopening colleges

Young people aged 17 to 29 were the most common age group to be infected with Covid-19, a new antibody study by Public Health England (PHE) shows. 

The study reveals a “dramatic age distribution” of Covid-19 infections in London – and that people aged between 17 and 29 were the “commonest group of people infected” in the capital, the HSJ reported. People who are infected with Covid-19 do not always get ill. 

According to the study, the proportion of 17- to 29-year-olds in London who were infected with Covid-19 rose from 3 per cent to more than 10 per cent – higher than any other age group – between the periods 23 to 29 March and 6 to 12 April. 

The study comes a week after prime minister Boris Johnson said colleges should prepare to reopen their doors to more students from 1 June. 


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PHE’s head of immunology, Mary Ramsay, told the HSJ that while data was limited, the patterns were similar across the other regions of England.

Coronavirus: Safety fears about reopening colleges

She said: “It’s the exact opposite to what we see for disease. We see disease in older adults predominantly, whereas with infection, we appear to be seeing it in younger adults.

“It’s a very interesting finding and quite possibly unexpected. I think even the modellers found it unexpected that the infection rates appear to be higher in the young adults. We have limited data from other regions, but the patterns are similar”.

University and College Union head of further education Andrew Harden stressed that colleges should not reopen until it is safe to do so.

"We now know that age and background are risk factors for Covid-19, which is particularly important for colleges considering the workforce is older and the student cohort more diverse," he said.

"Concerns have already been raised about the different R rates [the reproduction rates of the virus] around England and these latest findings further expose the problems with a one-size-fits-all approach. We need to see sector-specific guidance on measures to keep all students, staff and their families safe in all settings.’

Julian Gravatt, deputy chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Colleges are taking a cautious and considered approach to extending their opening and will take advice from the Department for Education and other government departments on the science.”

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