Epidemiologists warn Delta variant may have a more pronounced effect on younger Australians than other strains of Covid, with people under 55 making up an increasing proportion of hospitalizations during the current Sydney epidemic.
Chief Health Officer of New South Wales, Dr. Kerry Chant, published on Wednesday of the 37 people at Covid Hospital in the state, 14 were under the age of 55. Eight have not yet turned 35.
Chant said of the seven patients with Covid in intensive care at NSW, one is 30 and one is 50, while two are 60 and three are 70.
Chant said hospitalizations “should dispel the myth that this is something that only affects the elderly” and act as a “little alarm signal for the young.”
“The Delta strain is not a mild disease. “Some may be mild, but for many it can lead to hospitalization and death,” Chant said.
Professor Cassandra Berry, a researcher in viral immunology at Murdoch University, believes the mutations that make the Delta more transmissible also mean that some of the biological defenses that protected younger people from earlier strains are less effective.
Berry points to preliminary research into the spread of the Delta variant in the northern hemisphere that has found evidence that the virus binds better to younger people’s cell receptors. With earlier strains, the rapid responses of the younger people’s immune system provided an advantage in protecting the body from the virus.
“This form of the virus also has a counterattack measure, uses a stealth to hide and can block our very early innate responses. These are fast immune responses that usually trigger within 15 minutes and are more effective in young people, but this mutation seems to avoid that early response, ”Berry said. “It can be replicated at a higher level earlier in young people.”
Read more about Elias Visontay’s report here: Delta mutations mean that young people are less protected than Covid, experts warn