RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazil’s rising COVID-19 outbreak is affecting more and more younger people, with hospital data showing that the majority of people in intensive care were 40 or younger last month, according to a new report.
The report, released last weekend by the Brazilian Association of Intensive Medicine (AMIB), is based on data from more than a third of all intensive care units in the country. It found a significant increase in the number of younger people admitted to beds in Intensive Care Units (ICUs).
For the first time since the outbreak reached Brazil last year, 52% of IC beds were filled by patients 40 years of age or younger. That is a jump of 16.5% from the occupancy of that age group between December and February.
It is not clear why more young people are becoming seriously ill during the current wave of the virus in Brazil, but some scientists think the new P1 variant that has emerged in the Amazon city of Manaus may be at least partly to blame .
Other factors, such as the vaccination of the elderly and the behavior of younger people who may be less concerned about going out and socializing, could also influence the data.
In a separate report, public health institute Fiocruz said the trend is putting additional pressure on the Brazilian health system as younger patients tend to stay in intensive care for longer.
Brazil is currently the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with daily deaths exceeding 4,000 last week.
The outbreak is pushing hospitals to a breaking point, with many patients dying before an IC bed becomes available.
More than 350,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Brazil, the world’s second-highest death toll after just the United States.