A few studies I wanted to explore in a little more detail.
This comprehensive look at all deaths of children in the UK is very revealing. This is exactly the kind of detailed study that needs to be done for all deaths. The authors sought to distinguish between people who just happened to test positive and died of other causes and people who actually died of CV-19 disease. There are over 12 million children 18 years old and under in England. Out of these, 3105 in total died of anything. 61 died with a positive CV-19 test, but chart review found that only 25 of these actually died because of CV-19 disease. These children tended to be teenagers and to have another serious illness. Just think of this, only two in a million children have died from CV-19 and children are a 100 times less likely to die of CV-19 than some other cause. I have no doubt that the numbers are similar in the US and in Minnesota. So remember that when you think about school closures, masking children or vaccinating them. (Nature Article)
Delta is the cause of all our woes, right. No, it is just another myth that sound logical analysis would have dispelled early on and we would have seen the same basic epidemic curves with or without Delta. This very large study from the UK looked at outcomes by age group, comparing Alpha and Delta. Delta cases had a lower case fatality rate, .43% compared to 1.07% for Alpha. In those over 50 it was 2.4% for Delta versus 4.8% for Alpha. Similarly, hospitalization rates for Delta were 2.1% versus 3% for Alpha, with the comparison for those over 50 being 6.5% versus 8.6%. There was an increased proportion of hospitalizations in those over 50 but under 70. There was a decreased percent of LTC deaths. Now it is important to consider the effect of vaccination rates on these numbers, as more people were likely vaccinated during the Alpha wave, but that should not have much of an impact on case rates. But it also may be true that Alpha, which was earlier in time, partially exhausted the pool of persons who might be susceptible to serious disease. (UK Study)
There is a lot of focus on breakthrough infections but reinfections are important to track as well, since it helps identify the protective effect of a prior infection. This study from South Africa looks at reinfections in that country. (Medrxiv Paper) Not only were there very low rates of reinfection overall, but those rates did not increase during the Beta and Delta waves in the country, indicating strong protection against variants from prior infection. The total reinfection rate was around 1%, which is far lower than the breakthrough infection rate over similar days of exposure. Confirms to me that infection likely produces a better immune response than vaccination.
And the latest UK vaccine surveillance report shows a continuing trend of weakening protection against infection, but continued protection against hospitalizations and deaths, although that association is attentuated in the elderly. (UK Report)