Delta variant doubles the risk of hospitalization, study confirms

Health

NBC News 27 August, 2021 - 05:42pm 47 views

The study confirms prior research that suggested the highly infectious variant could lead to greater risk of hospitalization, including research from Scotland published in June.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified delta as a “variant of concern” in June, telling NBC News in a statement at the time that the classification was “based on mounting evidence that the Delta variant spreads more easily and causes more severe cases when compared to other variants.”

The majority of people in the study — 80 percent — were infected with the alpha variant, which swept England in late 2020. Just 20 percent had confirmed delta variant infections. Less than 2 percent of people were fully vaccinated and nearly 75 percent were unvaccinated. The remaining individuals were partially vaccinated, having only received one dose of the two-dose series.

After adjusting for risk factors such as age and underlying conditions, the data showed that partially vaccinated or unvaccinated people who were infected with the delta variant were twice as likely to be hospitalized compared to earlier variants. They were also 1.5 times more likely to need emergency medical care.

The vast majority of those who ended up in the hospital were unvaccinated, but the study found that the risk of hospitalization from delta was slightly greater even among those who were fully vaccinated, though this was still a rare occurrence.

"Our analysis highlights that in the absence of vaccination, any delta outbreaks will impose a greater burden on health care than an alpha epidemic,” the study’s lead author, Anne Presanis, a biostatistician with the University of Cambridge, said in a news release.

Amber D’Souza, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said researchers have understood for months that the delta variant is much more contagious than earlier versions of the virus, but it’s been unclear whether it makes people sicker.

“This research systematically linked data that showed that delta is not only more infectious, but can also lead to a worse outcome,” D’Souza told NBC News.

According to Rebecca Wurtz, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, it makes sense that the delta variant would land more people in the hospital than its predecessors, given what scientists already understand about the variant.

The delta variant produces more viral particles, which makes it more contagious than past versions of the coronavirus. But it also works more quickly, meaning it can gain a foothold in the body before the immune system has gotten a chance to respond.

“It still takes hours or days for the immune response to ramp up if you are vaccinated and become infected, and if the delta variant is in there, it gets in and out faster,” said Wurtz, explaining why vaccines can be less effective against infection with the delta variant than earlier variants. She added that safety measures such as physical distancing and mask wearing are important factors in stopping new versions of the coronavirus from continuing to spread and that vaccines are still hugely effective in preventing severe illness due to the delta variant.

The delta variant now accounts for nearly 99 percent of all new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. In the South, hospitalizations are at record highs, surpassing the winter surge of the virus, and patients are flooding hospitals at a record pace, particularly in states with lower vaccination rates.

D’Souza urged people to get vaccinated, adding that tried and true measures can help turn the tide of the pandemic. “We are in a better place than we were last year because we have an effective tool, the vaccine, and better therapies to treat people. We also know more about what behavioral prevention methods work,” she said. “We aren’t near the end yet, but we are making progress.”

Kaitlin Sullivan is a contributor for NBCNews.com who has worked with NBC News Investigations. She reports on health, science and the environment and is a graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York.

Read full article at NBC News

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The U.K. study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, is part of a growing body of evidence that suggests the latest delta variant may be causing more severe illness than prior strains.

"This large national study found a higher hospital admission or emergency care attendance risk for patients with COVID-19 infected with the delta variant compared with the alpha variant," researchers found.

The study included more than 40,000 patients with COVID-19, who underwent genome sequencing to determine which variant of the virus they had. Most were unvaccinated. During the course of the study from March 29 to May 23, the delta variant became more prevalent.

The researchers concluded the delta variant may pose a strain on health care systems and resources. This comes as states in the U.S., too, are experiencing shortages of staff, hospital beds and space in morgues.

Oregon and Florida have both needed additional space to hold bodies as hospital morgues and mortuaries are overwhelmed by COVID-19 deaths.

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►Contact tracers say the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota is the source of at least 178 COVID-19 infections across five different states. Since the start of the rally, cases in the state have shot up, and the epicenter of the rally, Meade County, is reporting the highest rate of cases in the state.

► Two Oregon counties have requested refrigerated trucks from the state because of mortuaries being overwhelmed with COVID-related deaths. Tillamook County Emergency Director Gordon McCraw said it was not possible to transport bodies to other counties because of infection among staff members.

► Newspaper reporter Brendan Quealy, of the Record-Eagle, said he was punched in the face while covering an anti-masking event near Traverse City, Michigan. Quealy said two men confronted him and one of them shoved him into a fence and punched him in the face with both fists.

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📘 What we're reading: COVID-19 is surging among America's youth. Doctors worry children of color, who disproportionately suffer from lack of access to health care, obesity and other chronic conditions, face the greatest risk. Read more.

As Louisianans prepared for explosive Hurricane Ida to make landfall on Sunday, the pandemic presented complications to the typical array of disaster preparations. Louisiana has been overwhelmed with cases, and most hospitals were preparing to continue operating through the storm. Gov. John Bel Edwards said shelters would operate with reduced capacities “to reflect the realities of COVID.”

The storm was arriving on the 16th anniversary of Katrina's landfall as a Category 3 hurricane. Most of the city flooded, almost 2,000 people died, and federal officials estimated the damage at $125 billion. Ida was nearing Category 5 strength as it approached the Louisiana coast.

New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Louisiana waned this week, but the state remains firmly in the grips of the worst yet fourth-wave COVID-19 surge. In the past four weeks, Louisiana has reported a total of 99,368 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the largest four-week total the state has seen since the pandemic began.

Louisiana's Department of Health announced Friday that given the threat posed by Hurricane Ida to the state's Gulf Coast, it will not be operating

A man who led efforts in his Central Texas community against mask wearing and other preventative measures died from COVID-19.

Caleb Wallace, 30, died Saturday, his wife, Jessica Wallace, said on a GoFundMe page, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported. He was a father of three children, and his wife was pregnant with their fourth child.

Wallace helped organize “The Freedom Rally” in San Angelo on July 4, 2020, in which people carried signs that criticized masks, business closures, the science behind COVID-19 and the media. In April, he demanded the San Angelo school district rescind all its COVID protocols.

Jessica Wallace told the newspaper her husband began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on July 26 but refused to get tested or go to the hospital. He instead took high doses of Vitamin C, zinc aspirin and ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medicine that officials have urged people not to take.

Caleb Wallace was taken to an emergency room on July 30 and since Aug. 8, he had been unconscious and on a ventilator.

Marc Bernier, a talk radio host in Daytona Beach, Florida, for 30 years and an outspoken opponent of vaccines, died after a three-week battle with COVID-19, WNDB and Southern Stone Communications announced on Twitter Saturday night.

Bernier, 65, of Ormond Beach, has been remembered in recent days as a conservative who sought out and aired others' points of view while airing a morning comment, three-hour afternoon show, weekend shows and specials, such as remote town halls and political debates.

Bernier had issues with vaccines for years. Mel Stack, an attorney and friend who regularly advertised on the program, said Bernier's anti-vaccination views were not based on politics, but personal experience based on how he believed vaccines had impacted people near to him.

An unvaccinated, unmasked elementary school teacher infected 22 students and four parents with COVID-19 in California, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While experiencing nasal congestion and fatigue, the teacher taught for two days before getting a COVID-19 test. Although the teacher thought the symptoms were simply allergies, she later tested positive.

The elementary school requires teachers and students to mask while indoors, but the CDC reported that the teacher was unmasked while reading aloud to the class.

"The outbreak’s attack rate highlights the delta variant’s increased transmissibility and potential for rapid spread, especially in unvaccinated populations such as schoolchildren too young for vaccination," according to the report.

A Florida judge on Friday threw out Gov. Ron DeSantis' order that banned schools from imposing mask mandates, arguing that parents' rights have to have some "reasonable limitation."

The ruling is a blow to the Republican governor, who had threatened school administrators with fines and cut pay if they went through with mandating masks. Several counties imposed mask orders in schools in defiance of the state order.

The districts found themselves in a tug-of-war between DeSantis and the federal government. U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urged the districts to hold out against threats, ensuring them that federal funds designated for COVID relief could be used to make up lost pay.

Schools can impose mask mandates if they have a "compelling state interest," Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper said.

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According to reports, Caleb Wallace organized rallies to "end COVID tyranny" and pushed back against pandemic-related guidelines.

The COVID-19 outbreak spread to 26 people, the CDC reported.

“Whether he was a hardcore conservative or not, he was an amazing man," his wife, Jessica Wallace, said of the 30-year-old father of three young girls.

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TOKYO (Reuters) -Two people died after receiving Moderna Inc COVID-19 vaccine shots that were among lots later suspended following the discovery of contaminants, Japan's health ministry said on Saturday. The men in their 30s died this month within days of receiving their second Moderna doses, the ministry said in a release. Japan halted the use of 1.63 million Moderna doses https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-withdraws-16-mln-moderna-covid-19-vaccine-doses-over-contamination-nikkei-2021-08-25 shipped to 863 vaccination centres nationwide, more than a week after the domestic distributor, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, received reports of contaminants in some vials.

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Putting public health first this school year: NYC needs a remote learning option

New York Daily News 27 August, 2021 - 04:00am

To be clear, all three of us want to see students return to classrooms for in-person learning as soon as possible.

As virtual learning is not as of now available this school year, it is our hope that in the next few weeks, constructive discussion and consideration continue on behalf of families who — given the legitimate and known concerns about COVID-19, the delta variant, and students who are not yet able to be vaccinated — deserve flexibility, and to have a remote option available to them as our children head back to the classroom.

In New York City, the delta variant is the clear variant of concern among all tested cases. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the delta variant is more contagious and may cause more severe illness in those who are unvaccinated. The CDC has updated its recommendations regarding masking in classrooms and has been adopted by the NYCDOE. While we don’t yet know if the delta variant causes more severe cases of COVID-19 amongst our children — especially our youth suffering from asthma, and others who may be immunocompromised — we do know that this strain has caused an uptick in pediatric cases. From July to August, more than 200 children were being hospitalized with COVID-19 every day on average — nearly matching numbers from our pre-vaccine peak in January.

As delta continues to spread nationwide, accounting for nearly 90% of all new infections, vaccination rates have not reached levels of herd immunity.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for individuals 16 years and older is a strong sign that we will be moving closer to that goal. With its approval and announcement by the mayor and DOE that New York City is requiring every Education Department employee to be vaccinated this school year, we are confident that we are taking strides to meet the urgency of our reality. But the fact remains that we do not yet have even emergency approval for vaccination of children 12 years or younger. Parents — especially with children who aren’t yet eligible to get vaccinated — are understandably concerned.

Additionally, when the federal eviction moratorium expires in October, millions of families will be at an increased risk of homelessness and housing insecurity. In New York alone, one out of 10 children in public schools was homeless before the pandemic. Our housing crisis puts kids at even more risk of contracting COVID-19 and disrupting an already fragile back-to-school plan.

Especially in light of this ever-changing public health landscape, our families need flexibility and understanding. Currently, in New York State, parents can present a note from their child’s pediatrician to request virtual learning if they’re at heightened risk for contracting COVID-19, but this deference must also be provided to all our parents, including those without access to a doctor — because no parent should have to choose between their child’s safety and their education.

For parents on the wary side, they should have the option to submit their concerns and requests for virtual learning to county- and district-specific task forces that have the resources to adjudicate these requests, and make their decisions based on the most up-to-date and district-specific COVID-19 infection data.

We know that our students learn better when they’re together with their peers and under the direct supervision of their educators. We know that hands-on learning is the best learning. But we also know parents need options — they need to feel supported, and we have a duty to provide that support wherever, and however, we can.

This pandemic isn’t over, and our families need a remote option. Not as a first choice, but as an available alternative if the need demands.

We’ve been hard at work to provide the resources and support our schools need to make in-person learning a reality again. It will take each of us working to ensure that parents are heard, their students are supported, and that schools have full transparency and accountability to meet the challenges ahead. The most important thing we can do as public servants is ensure that our students and their families are kept safe.

Copyright © 2021, New York Daily News

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