Seniors are not the only people vulnerable to COVID-19 infection; in Quebec, 50% of affected patients are under the age of 70 and they are not free from serious complications, warns an infectious disease specialist.
Seniors have been singled out for several days, and many have ignored government warnings to stay at home.
However, the younger population does not remain invincible, recalls the Dr Guy Boivin, infectious disease specialist at the CHU de Québec.
“Infections can occur at any age. It is certain that complications and deaths are related to advancing age. Young people can also be severely affected. This is not the norm, but it does happen and it is often linked to an underlying disease, “explains Dr Boivin.
The immune system – regardless of the age of the affected patient – is not prepared to defend itself against COVID-19, unlike influenza. The patients all start from the same starting point, according to the infectious disease specialist.
“We are all naive to the virus, our immune system has never seen it,” he said.
In a press conference on Thursday, the national director of public health, Horacio Arruda, went there with the same story.
“Even if we are 45 years old, and we are in great shape, that we are a runner, if we can avoid catching it, it is better, because who tells you that it is not him who’s going to make the complication? ”he said.
According to recent data, in the United States, 40% of severe COVID-19 cases are in patients aged 20 to 54 years. One in two cases of resuscitation is a patient under 65 years of age.
In their thirties
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott also said that several patients in their thirties from around the world are currently on respiratory assistance.
In the crisis, the Dr Boivin also calls for the involvement of young people to smooth the curve.
“They have a social responsibility. The most feared scenario is that young people will get the infection, but with little or no symptoms. They will be in contact with the elderly and the infection can become fatal for them. ”
“I never knew that”
Last January, the Dr Boivin inaugurated the containment level 3 laboratory at CHUL, which is used to develop new treatments for deadly diseases, such as COVID-19. During the event, the Chinese coronavirus had not reached Quebec soil.
The infectiologist admits to being greatly surprised that the scenario has turned into a pandemic.
“To be frank, I didn’t expect it to grow as much. I thought it would be a similar scenario to SARS in 2003. It lasted seven or eight months, but it didn’t affect all countries. There have been 8000 cases and 800 deaths. Now it’s completely different, I’ve never experienced that, ”he says.
He believes that the pandemic will continue for months and that the measures taken to counter the spread are justified, and hopes for the lasting collaboration of all.
“Social distancing and quarantine can be done over a short period, but doing this over several weeks, even months, will be difficult,” argues Dr Boivin.
A major advertising campaign will be launched in the coming days for a clinical trial of a COVID-19 drug for moderate to severe infections.