The report, published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examined 121 coronavirus-related deaths between February 12 and July 31 in people younger than 21.
Young people with at least one underlying condition were more likely to die, and almost half of the deaths were in those with two or more underlying health conditions.
The deaths - almost half of which occurred among those ages 18 to 20 - represent a small fraction of the 391,814 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 or MIS-C in that age group during that time frame.
"And when they do get [Covid-19], biologically, they're more predisposed to getting very sick with it", compared to younger children, said Desai, who was not involved with the new report but is a former infectious disease officer at the CDC.
The racial disparity of those diagnosed with COVID-19 goes beyond children - the CDC data shows adults of color under the age of 65 are dying at twice the rate of white people in the same subset. Approximately 10% of the deaths were in infants under the age of 1, an additional 9% were in children between 1 and 4, with another 11% in the 5-9 range and 10% in the 10-13 range. Although the vast majority of those who were already battling a chronic illness, 30 of the 121 individuals - 25 percent - were listed as "previously healthy", with "no underlying medical conditions".
"It's heart breaking", says Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious disease specialist at the University of MI. In addition, obesity costs the U.S. healthcare system $147 billion a year, according to the CDC.
"The amount of difference was striking", he added. The report also points to social disparities that puts communities of color at greater risk.
These are young people that are more likely to live in multigenerational families, Desai said.
Meanwhile, the USA still remains the worst affected country and has recorded more than 6.5 million cases of the virus, with 1,94,000 deaths reported so far, as per worldometer dashboard.
Another possible reason is that racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among essential workers who are unable to work from home, resulting in higher risk for secondary transmission among household members, the report said. That report only includes cases defined by the states as "pediatric" - an age that varies from state to state, and in some states, cuts off at 17.