Survey: Half of under-20 victims of COVID-19 had no underlying conditions

A survey in Japan on a group of people under the age of 20 who died from the coronavirus has found that about half of them had no underlying health problems.

Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases examined records on young people who developed coronavirus symptoms and died between January and August this year, when the omicron variant spread rapidly in the country. The institute reported results of its survey to the health ministry's panel of experts on Wednesday.

Researchers at the institute closely examined 29 deaths. By age, eight were under 12 months old, six were aged from one through four. Twelve others were aged from five through 11, and three were aged from 12 through 19. Among them, 15, or about half, had no underlying health issues.

Of the 15 who were eligible for vaccinations, two had been vaccinated twice.

When they were brought to medical institutions, 79 percent had fever, 52 percent complained of nausea and vomiting, and 45 percent had impaired consciousness. Impaired consciousness, vomiting and convulsion were the most common symptoms among those without underlying health problems. The researchers said that for this reason, it is important to watch for non-respiratory symptoms as well.

For the 26 people for whom there were records of the date symptoms began, 73 percent died in less than one week.

Wakita Takaji, who heads the ministry's expert panel, stressed the importance of having children take measures to prevent infections. He added that he believes vaccination is one of the key options.