The number of coronavirus patients under 40 years of age in intensive care surpassed that of older age groups in Brazil last month, according to the Brazilian Association of Intensive Care Medicine (AMIB) and amid the growth of a new, more aggressive variant of the virus. Brazil became the epicenter of the pandemic with most of the health systems of its states collapsed. Despite the fact that specialists and governors demand restriction measures from the federal government that try to stop the infections, President Jair Bolsonaro refuses, claiming that the economy cannot stop.
People aged 39 and younger admitted to intensive care units for COVID-19 increased considerably in March to more than 11, which is 52,2 percent of the total. The data comes from the UCI Project, an initiative of the AMIB. At the beginning of the pandemic, this figure was only 14,6 percent, and between September and February, 45 percent, reports Page 12.
“Before this was a population that normally only developed a less severe form of the disease and did not need intensive care. So the increase (…) in this age group is very significant, ”said Dr. Ederlon Rezende, project coordinator.
Rezende said that several factors could be driving the increase. Patients over 80 years of age, who went from 13,6 to 7,8 percent of the total in intensive care in Brazil in March, are now mostly vaccinated. Young people are also more likely to be exposed to the virus, either because they have to leave home to work or because they believe they are less vulnerable.
Another factor may be a variant of the virus that originated in Manaus and that according to experts is partly responsible for the number of deaths from covid-19 in the country skyrocketing in March. The figures suggest that P1, which can re-infect people who had the original strain of the virus, "may also be more virulent," Rezende said.
"Younger patients without pre-existing diseases are coming to intensive care units with more serious cases" of the disease, said the coordinator of a public hospital in São Paulo. And the proportion of patients on ventilators from the pandemic hit a record 58,1 percent in March, according to project data.
In parallel, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation warned that Brazil is going through a critical scenario and a worsening of saturation in the health system, particularly in the southern and central states for the next few weeks. The coronavirus adds more than 13 million infections and has already claimed 351.334 lives in this country of 212 million inhabitants, a death toll that is only surpassed by the United States.