A study published in Science in February 2021 used cell phone data to track COVID-19 cases in the US. The Imperial College London researchers responsible for the study found that a specific age group of adults is currently the main cause of COVID infection spread.
Over 10 million Americans were tracked through cell phone data for the study. Results pointed to people between the ages of 28 and 49 as the most significant source of COVID infection spread, as of fall 2020. That amounts to about 65 of every 100 coronavirus cases coming from this age group alone.
Cell phones were tracked through technology from Foursquare and Pilgrim, which “leverages a wide variety of mobile device signals to pinpoint the time, duration, and location of user visits to locations such as shops, parks, or universities,” according to the study.
7. Older Adults Are More Vulnerable, But Not the Biggest Threat
Perhaps it’s because older adults are better at social distancing, or because fewer senior citizens use cell phones (for data tracing) that this age group wasn’t considered a top spreader of COVID infections. However, older adults do remain highly vulnerable for severe illness and death from coronavirus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adults 65-74 are twice as likely to catch COVID, 35 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 1100 times more likely to die from COVID than young people aged 5-17. For adults older than 74, the numbers related to coronavirus risks continue to increase.
6. Children, Teens, and School Infection Spread
In spite of school reopenings in late 2020, study results show that under-20 age groups currently contribute only a small percentage of COVID infection spread in the United States. Children up to age 9 account for the smallest amount of virus spread at less than 5 percent. Children and teens between ages 10-19 make up 10% of COVID spread, according to the study.
When you compare these results to the 28-49 adult age group comprising 72.2% of coronavirus spread, it’s clear where the biggest problem lies even in school settings.