Younger adults made up a higher share of COVID-19-related hospitalizations during the Delta variant-fueled summer surge, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report finds.
The report, published on Friday, found that Americans aged 18 to 49 made up 35.8 percent of Covid hospitalizations during what is considered the ‘Delta period.’
This is a sharp increase from the 24.7 percent of hospitalizations this age group made up in the pre-Delta period.
The rise was almost entirely felt by the unvaccinated, though, with 18-to-49-year-olds accounting for 26.9 percent of hospitalizations among people who had not received the jab in the pre-Delta period and 43.6 percent during the Delta period.
Researchers say this data highlights the need for young adults – who are less likely to have received the Covid jab – to get the shots.
People aged 18 to 49 made up 35% of all hospitalizations during the Delta variant period, with their share of the burden increasing from 24.7% to 35.8%. This shift was entirely among unvaccinated young people
Researchers also found that the Delta variant does not increase the risk of someone dying from the virus, so deaths remained low among young people despite the increase in hospitalizations
The CDC gathered data from 14 states using the COVID-19–Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network, dubbed COVID-NET, a system that gathers Covid data nationwide for use in studies like this.
In total, 5,951 hospitalization from the ‘pre-Delta’ period and 1,664 from the ‘Delta’ period were included in the study.
The pre-Delta period included hospitalizations from January to June 2021, before the Indian-born variant became America’s dominant strain.
Hospitalizations from July and August 2021 were considered to be a part of the Delta period.
All patients whose hospitalizations were included in the study were split into three age groups, those aged 18 to 49, aged 50 to 64 and those aged 65 or older.
In the pre-Delta period, the 65 and older age group accounted for the largest amount of hospitalizations, at 44.1 percent, with the 50-to-64 age group accounting for 31.2 percent and the 18-to-49 group making up 24.7 percent of Covid hospitalizations.
Researchers from the CDC point to the lower vaccination rates among young people as reason for the shift in the age of people being hospitalized with the virus. Pictured: A Covid patient receives treatment in Grants Pass, Oregon, on September 9
The numbers drastically shifted during the Delta period, though, and suddenly the 18 to 49 age group starting accounting for the largest share of hospitalizations.
Members of the youngest age group made up 35.8 percent of Covid hospitalizations during the Delta period.
People aged 50 to 64 made up 30.4 percent – the smallest share – with the 65 and older crowd making up 33.58 percent of hospitalizations.
This shift was entirely felt among unvaccinated people.
Of the 5,900 cases detected during the pre-Delta period, 4,896 of the patients were unvaccinated.
Before Delta, unvaccinated people aged 18 to 49 made up 26.9 percent of hospitalizations, a figure that soared to 43.6 percent during the Delta period.
There was also a small uptick for unvaccinated people aged 50 to 64, from a 32.4 percent to 33.6 percent share of hospitalizations.
Older people had a steep drop in share of hospitalizations, though.
Unvaccinated Americans aged 65 or older only accounted for 22.8 percent of hospitalizations during the Delta period, down from 40.6 percent in the pre-Delta period.
The figures for vaccinated people, of which there were 389 hospitalized before Delta and 393 hospitalized after, remained steady when the highly contagious variant was introduced.
Researchers believe this sudden shift is due to the vaccination rates of each age group.
Almost every single American aged 65 to 74 has received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 93 percent of those 75 or older have as well.
While these age groups are at a particularly high risk from the virus, the vaccines have proved effective at preventing hospitalization and deaths for the most part.
Comparatively, younger people have much lower vaccination rates.
Young people have significantly lower vaccination rates than older people. Almost all Americans 65 or older have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine at this point, compared to less than 70% of adults under the age of 40
Only 65 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 have received at least one shot of a vaccine.
Just under 70 percent aged 25 to 39 have gotten the jab, and 77 percent of Americans aged 40 to 49.
Without the extra protection during the rise of the Delta variant, many younger people were unexpectedly hospitalized.
The death rate during the Delta period remained low, though, as researchers also found the Delta variant did not increase the likelihood of death among patients.
Since younger people are at lower risk of dying from the virus, even when hospitalized, not as many hospitalized people died during the Delta surge as had in previous Covid surges.