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Coronavirus symptoms linger for over two weeks for one in five young adults

One in five US adults under 35 who contracted coronavirus still had at least one lingering symptom of the virus up to 21 days after they tested positive, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report reveals. 

As coronavirus cases surge across much of the US, the demographics have shifted dramatically. Despite being a disease that is most deadly to older people, coronavirus is now spreading most virulently among younger adults. 

Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has estimated that the average age of people testing positive for COVID-19 has decreased by about a decade-and-a-half, compared to the average age of new patients a few months ago. 

Survival odds might be substantially better for this younger group – but the virus is by no means harmless to them. 

When interviewed by CDC scientists between 14 and 21 days after their positive tests, 32 percent of adults between ages 35 and 49 said they still didn’t feel entirely back to their normal, healthy selves. 

More than a quarter (26% ) of people aged 18 to 34 said the same. 

It comes after Dr Fauci warned that the lingering COVID-19 symptoms seen in some young adults resemble those of chronic fatigue syndrome – but he added it could be months or years before we know for certain if the infection can trigger lifelong health issues. 

Despite exhaustive warnings that youth does not prevent coronavirus infection, young people in the US are now fueling the virus’s spread and accounting for an outsized proportion of infections. 

During a June 26 press briefing, the White House revealed that more than half of new coronavirus cases confirmed in the preceding weeks were among adults younger than 35.

Cases trending younger is pushing down the coronavirus death rate in the US – currently estimated to be about 3.6 percent of all cases, according to Johns Hopkins University – but the illness may have more lasting, potentially serious effects than the common cold or flu. 

CDC researchers tracked nearly 1,000 american adults who tested positive for coronavirus between April and June in 13 states.  

Although we now know that asymptomatic infections are not only possible but common, 94 percent of people included in the study, released Friday, reported having at least one symptom at the time they tested positive. 

By the time CDC scientists followed up with the patients, between 14 and 21 days after their diagnoses, many had made a full recovery, but a significant proportion were still suffering some symptoms. 

Between 29 and 43 percent of study participants who had coughs, fatigue or shortness of breath when they were diagnosed were still having those same problems weeks later. 

Overall, 35 percent of the patients, across all age groups still had some symptoms. 

Although the proportion of people with lingering symptoms was smallest among the youngest age group (18-34), 26 percent of these healthy young adults had not made full recoveries. 

That’s a stark contrast to the recovery time for flu patients, the CDC authors noted. 

Within about two weeks of testing positive, 90 percent of healthy people who are diagnosed with flu, but don’t get sick enough to be hospitalized have returned to baseline health. 

‘Nonhospitalized COVID-19 illness can result in prolonged illness and persistent symptoms, even in young adults and persons with no or few chronic underlying medical conditions,’ the CDC report determined. 

‘Public health messaging should target populations that might not perceive COVID-19 illness as being severe or prolonged, including young adults and those without chronic underlying medical conditions.’    

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