COVID cases are getting younger, and doctors say it''s partly due to pandemic fatigue. According to data released Tuesday, adults aged 20 to 39 accounted for 43% of all local cases detected last week, up from just 15% at the start of the domestic outbreak. One physician says it''s because young adults have grown tired of living with the pandemic, and are venturing outside more than most. Another factor is the low inoculation rate among younger adults, who are low on the priority list for vaccines.
Taiwan has finally brought its COVID epidemic to heel, drastically slowing the spread of the virus. But with the partial easing of restrictions last week, crowds are surging back at local attractions, and facilities like gyms are reopening. Although the daily case counts have gone down, the proportion of young adults has increased.
Chen Shih-chung (July 20)
The cluster infections from the last two weeks have primarily been family clusters. The age of confirmed cases is going down. Local governments have been asked to promote key COVID guidelines among younger people, and to strengthen safeguards against community transmission.
The health minister said the ratio of young cases is on the rise. In the first week of the domestic outbreak, 15% of total cases were between 20 and 39 years old. Last week, young adults accounted for 43% of the total.
Dr. Lee Ping-ing
NTU Children’s Hospital
Initially the outbreak in Taiwan was shaped by geography. Venues in Wanhua are frequented by an older clientele, so there was a lower rate of infection among [younger] adults at the beginning. Then the virus entered the community. Young people are more active in the community, and so their infection rate increased.
Experts weighed in on why cases are trending younger. With summer vacation and pandemic fatigue in full swing, young adults are venturing out more than before, raising their risk of exposure. There’s also the matter of the vaccination rate, which is more than 60% for adults between 65 and 74, and more than 65% for adults 75 and older. Meanwhile, most young adults are still waiting their turn.
Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital
Among everybody 65 and older, the vaccination rate is about 70%. It’s not very high yet, not yet above 90%. If young people become infected and come into contact with older relatives at home, they could pass on the virus.
Doctors say Taiwan’s epidemic is easing, and the Level 3 alert is likely to be lifted on July 26. But they urge the public to stay vigilant against the virus, to prevent another devastating resurgence.