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Nonsmoking Young Adults Less Vulnerable to Severe COVID-19

Medical vulnerability 32 percent for full sample of young adults, 16 percent for nonsmoking sample

woman smoking

THURSDAY, July 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Nonsmoking young adults have lower medical vulnerability to severe COVID-19 illness, according to a study published online July 13 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Sally H. Adams, Ph.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues examined young adults' medical vulnerability to severe COVID-19 illness in a young adult subsample (aged 18 to 25 years) from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey.

The researchers found that medical vulnerability was 32 percent for the full sample and 16 percent for the nonsmoking sample. There were differences in the patterns and significance of some subgroups between the full and nonsmoking sample. In the full sample, male vulnerability was higher than female vulnerability (33 versus 30 percent), while among nonsmokers, male vulnerability was lower (14 versus 19 percent). In the full sample and nonsmoking sample, the white subgroup had higher vulnerability than Hispanic and Asian subgroups (31 percent versus 24 and 18 percent, respectively, in the full sample; 17 percent versus 13 and 10 percent, respectively, in the nonsmoking sample).

"The risk of being medically vulnerable to severe disease is halved when smokers are removed from the sample," a coauthor said in a statement. "Efforts to reduce smoking and e-cigarette use among young adults would likely lower their vulnerability to severe disease."

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