Age groups that sustain resurging COVID-19 epidemics in the United States

Science. 2021 Feb 2;eabe8372. doi: 10.1126/science.abe8372. Online ahead of print.


Following initial declines, in mid 2020 a resurgence in transmission of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) occurred in the US and Europe. As COVID19 disease control efforts are re-intensified, understanding the age demographics driving transmission and how these affect the loosening of interventions is crucial. We analyze aggregated, age-specific mobility trends from more than 10 million individuals in the US and link these mechanistically to age-specific COVID-19 mortality data. We estimate that as of October 2020, individuals aged 20-49 are the only age groups sustaining resurgent SARS-CoV-2 transmission with reproduction numbers well above one, and that at least 65 of 100 COVID-19 infections originate from individuals aged 20-49 in the US. Targeting interventions - including transmission-blocking vaccines - to adults aged 20-49 is an important consideration in halting resurgent epidemics and preventing COVID-19-attributable deaths.