KEY POINTS

  • Los Angeles reveals the death of a person below 18 years old from COVID-19
  • Prior to this death, there were only two teens that died from the disease out of the 18,600 deaths worldwide
  • A study in China found no deaths occurred among anyone younger than 10

The announcement of the death from COVID-19 of an individual under 18 years old by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) was greeted with alarm by the medical community on account of data showing the disease mainly spares the young.

LACDPH director Barbara Ferrer revealed the death of the teen -- the first teen death in the United States from COVID-19 -- along with the deaths of two other older residents. Ferrer also revealed 128 more confirmed cases in the county.

“One individual was a youth under the age of 18, and two other individuals were between 50-70 years old," said Ferrer. “The individual under the age of 18 resided in Lancaster."

“This is a devastating reminder that COVID-19 affects people of all ages,” said Ferrer of the death of the young person. She confirmed LA now has 662 cases and 11 deaths from the virus.

She also said one of the deceased was between 50 years-old and 70 years-old, had underlying health conditions and resided in West Adams. The other was from a location that is still under investigation.

Doctors, especially epidemiologists, have long said older people in general are more susceptible to "SARS-CoV-2," severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 20, the virus thty causes COVID-19. Young people in general are less likely to suffer severe symptoms from the disease.

But the death of this young person -- who is only the third person under 19 to die from the disease out of the more than 18,600 fatalities worldwide --  highlights the threat SARS-CoV-2 poses to the entire population and its unpredictability.

The only two other confirmed deaths of younger people are that of a 14-year-old boy in China and a Spaniard between the age of 10 and 19. An extensive review of 44,672 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patients in China published in early March found no deaths occurred among anyone younger than 10.

Another study by experts in Wuhan, China (epicenter of the pandemic) found there were 31,211 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 637 fatalities from Dec. 8, 2019 and February 6, but could find only nine infected babies hospitalized nationwide. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame lies deserted, with the final attempts to round up passengers for tours of the stars' homes and hangouts abandoned The Hollywood Walk of Fame lies deserted, with the final attempts to round up passengers for tours of the stars' homes and hangouts abandoned Photo: AFP / Agustin PAULLIER

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week said in a report fewer than 1% of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases in the U.S. thus far have involved people age 19 or younger. No one in this group had died -- until now.

LACDPH is confirming how the deceased minor contracted the coronavirus and whether any underlying health issues exacerbated the illness. U.S. health officials also share the conventional wisdom young children are at lesser risk than older people for contracting SARS-CoV-2.

One possible reason why babies, toddlers and young children haven't been critically threatened is because of their immature immune systems. Doctors say an undeveloped immune system might prevent the body from triggering inflammation severe enough to result in pneumonia, septic shock and organ failure.