PAHO is warning of an increase in the hospitalization and death of younger people due to COVID-19.
According to Director Dr Carissa F. Etienne, mortality rates in Brazil have doubled among those younger than 39 and quadrupled among those in their 40s, between December 2020 and March 2021.
Meanwhile in Chile, hospitalization rates of people under 39 rose by more than 70% in the past few months; while in some areas of the US, more people in their 20s are now being hospitalized for COVID-19 than people in their 70s.
Dr Etienne says while healthy young people are more likely to survive, they may remain in hospitals for weeks, and so, countries must be prepared for surging hospital demand.
She says more health workers and specialized personnel should be hired and trained, while existing health workers should be supported “after operating in ‘crisis mode’ for so long.
She also warned that while vaccines are being rolled out as fast as possible, they are not a short-term solution.
Instead, she says they are one part of the comprehensive response that includes prevention through public health measures and improving readiness of health systems.