The changing dynamics of the Covid19 pandemic has doctors concerned as they witness a growing number of their patients in the younger age group, a stark difference from the last year when the virus had more elderly victims and did not cause much illness in others.
Prof Parvaiz A Koul, renowned influenza expert, who recently retired from SKIMS Soura as head of internal and pulmonary medicine said not just in Kashmir, the phenomenon is global. "Yes, now it is affecting younger ones as well," he said. He said the comparison was not between younger and older but between the numbers of infected people in their 30s and 40s in 2020 and 2021. He said the change was a concern as now, it is not just that more people in young age groups are testing positive, but also that many of them have "severe illness". "Even in children, there are infections and severe symptoms now," he said.
Prof Koul said that the public health measures and guidelines were "very difficult" for children to follow and the new age groups that were getting affected with the new wave of COVID19 was "out there for livelihoods, studies". He said that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently said since December, nearly 60 percent of the affected people are aged below 45 years. "Last year, most of the affected were co-morbid and elderly," he said.
Prof Naveed Nazir Shah, head department of Chest Medicine at GMC Srinagar also expressed concern over the change in the behaviour of the virus. "The young are getting sick and there is rapid progress of disease in some," he said. He said the situation was "serious" and at present a number of patients in the age group of 30 to 45 years were admitted with pneumonia. "And the condition of some deteriorates fast," he said.
A senior infectious diseases expert at SKIMS Soura said that many aspects of the pandemic were not being elucidated in the manner that would help people make better decisions. "A look at SKIMS Soura today will show how many people who are not elderly and who do not have an underlying disease are fighting for their survival," he said. However, he said, he did not see a difference in the overall morbidity of the virus between 2020 and 2021. "If we look at the number of active positive cases at the moment and the number that need admission among these, it is the same as last year," he said, adding that only the affected age group appears to be changing.