Coronavirus is spreading much more amongst young people, says virologist

28 August 2020, 18:24

By Fiona Jones

Virologist Dr Chris Smith explained why many more cases are now occurring in younger people.

He told Eddie Mair that while case numbers rise the data is not showing a parallel escalation in mortality as more young people are catching it and are less at risk of dying from the disease.

"Older people are taking more cautious approaches: they're not going out or they're not putting themselves in harm's way. They're being more careful," Dr Chris said.

Dr Chris said that this finding in the data is "encouraging" because "if we're not seeing that step increase in mortality rate, even if we do get a surge with schools going back...it probably won't translate in to more mortality statistics."

He did caveat that of course one does not catch Covid and immediately become a mortality statistic it takes a few weeks for this to happen - hence the scientists will be watching the numbers quite carefully.

Eddie asked if the UK is doing better than some other European countries, to which Dr Chris responded that the UK eased lockdown later than they did, "so those countries are ahead of the curve on us in that regard."

He said, "It may well be that they are demonstrating to us where we're headed unless we can learn from what's going on in their country and avoid it happening here before it happens to us.

"Obviously winter is coming as well, that does give viruses an extra helping hand...schools are returning, that's going to mean more people movements, more people on public transport, more children interacting with each other, so that will directly translate into more cases."

Dr Chris continued that the UK is much more prepared than previously, such as a better testing capacity and a more agile, localised approach.

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