Representational image of Covid patient by iStock

Young adults admitted to hospital with coronavirus are almost as likely to experience complications as those over 50, a recent study has suggested, dispelling suggestions that the virus presents no risk to younger healthy adults.

According to a research published in the medical journal The Lancet on Thursday (July 15), complications such as organ damage are high even in previously healthy patients aged under 50 who were admitted to hospital with Covid-19. The research was carried out by scientists at eight UK universities and the Department of Health and Social Care.

Based on the data of  73,197 adults of all ages across 302 UK hospitals in the first wave of Covid last year, the research stated that around half of all adult patients suffered at least one complication during their hospital stay. The most common was kidney damage, followed by lung and heart damage.

The highest rates were in those over 50 years old, with 51 per cent reporting at least one problem. But they were also “very common” in younger age groups. Some 37 per cent of 30 to 39 year olds and 44 per cent of 40 to 49 year olds had at least one complication.

Doctors are not yet certain how a severe Covid illness can cause organ damage, but it is thought in some cases the body’s own immune system can spark an inflammatory response and injure healthy tissue.

The study also found that those with pre-existing conditions were more likely to report complications but the risk was high even in young, previously healthy individuals.

Acute complications are also associated with reduced ability to self-care at discharge – with 13 per cent of 19-29 year olds and 17 per cent of 30-39 year olds unable to look after themselves once discharged from hospital, stated the study.

Although the study looked at cases before vaccines were widely available, and new variants of the virus had not arisen, the authors claim that their findings remain relevant in dispelling suggestions that the virus presents no risk to younger healthy adults, many of whom remain unvaccinated.

Prof Calum Semple, who led the research, said: “The message is that this is not just a disease of the elderly and frail.

“The data reinforces the fact that Covid is not flu and we are seeing even young adults coming into hospital suffering significant complications, some of which will require furthering monitoring and potentially further treatment in the future.”

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