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COVID-19 Scan for Sep 03, 2021

Vaccine less protective but very beneficial vs Delta SARS-CoV-2 variant

COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness (VE) against the Delta (B1617.2) variant was 65% in those fully vaccinated, according to a population-based study in Norway. The results, published in Eurosurveillance yesterday, looked at 4,204,859 infected adults without previous COVID-19 from mid-April to mid-August.

Of the cohort, 0.13% had sequences indicating the Delta variant, of which 29.6% were partly vaccinated and 10.3% were fully vaccinated. VE against Delta of the available vaccines—Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford, or a mix—was 22.4% after partial vaccination and 64.6% after full vaccination (95% confidence intervals, 17.0% to 27.4% and 60.6% to 68.2%, respectively).

The researchers also looked at VE against the Alpha (B117) variant, which was identified in 0.31% of individuals. They found 54.5% and 84.4% VE in those partly and fully vaccinated, respectively.

Data revealed that 84 people were hospitalized (9 fully vaccinated) and 5 died (3 fully vaccinated) after contracting the Delta variant, and that 382 were hospitalized (10 full vaccinated) and 25 died (8 fully vaccinated) after contracting the Alpha variant. VE against either condition was not calculated because of the low absolute numbers.
Sep 2 Euro Surveill study


Loss of taste or smell linked to some COVID symptoms more than others

Although loss of taste or smell has been linked to COVID-19 infection, a research letter in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery yesterday found that the condition may not be as absolute a marker as people think.

The researchers used the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention self-checker tool to look at 59,153 uses from Feb 2 to May 3. All users were adults, with the largest age-group being 18 to 29 years (26.7%). Most were female (65.6%) or White (62.6%). Vaccination status was not recorded.

Among people with negative COVID-19 test results, loss of taste or smell was more strongly associated with congestion or runny nose compared with those who had positive test results (odds ratios [ORs], 2.26 vs 1.66). Similarly, loss of taste or smell was more strongly associated with cough and fever if the COVID-19 test was negative, not positive (ORs, 1.16 to 1.57 vs 0.95 to 1.01).

On the other hand, vomiting or diarrhea was more strongly associated with loss of taste or smell among patients with positive test results (ORs, 1.52 vs 1.23).

“The findings of this cross-sectional study suggest that differences in symptoms occurring with new loss of taste or smell were seen between groups based on SARS-CoV-2 test positivity,” the researchers write. “In both groups with positive and negative test results, congestion or runny nose had strong associations with new loss of taste or smell, suggesting the latter may not be a valid marker of test positivity in this sample.”
Sep 2 JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg study

Decarceration linked to 2% less daily COVID-19 cases

If jails “decarcerated,” or released, 80% of their inmates—an amount the researchers say is often proportionate to people detained for nonviolent crimes—daily COVID-19 case growth rates in the community would drop 2%, according to a modeling study yesterday in JAMA Network Open. The researchers say if such a strategy had been implemented nationally at the beginning of the pandemic, millions of cases could have been prevented.

The researchers looked at 165 US counties, which encompassed 51% of all counties, 72% of the US population, and 60% of the US jail population. The average prison population was 283.4 people, and the average county density was 315.2 people per square mile.

Mathematical modeling based on data from Jan 1 to Nov 15, 2020, estimated that 80% decarceration was linked to a 2.0% drop in daily COVID-19 case growth rates (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.8% to 3.1%), which increased to 4.6% in counties with above-median population density (95% CI, 2.2% to 7.1%). Counties with below-median population density saw less of an effect (0.5%; 95% CI, 0.1% to 0.9%).

“The high rate at which people are cycled between communities and unnecessary short-term stays in jails is creating epidemiologic pumps that drive more and more infections in both jails and communities,” said first author Eric Reinhart, MD, in a Northwestern University press release. Jail populations have a 55% weekly turnover rate, according to the study. “This jail churn effectively produces epidemic machines that seed outbreaks both in and beyond jails, undermining public safety for the entire country.”

The study assessed 10 other COVID-19 mitigations in addition to releasing prisoners, with the most influential being bans on nursing home visitations (7.3% rate reduction), school closures (4.3%), and mask mandates (2.5%). Stay-at-home orders were associated with only a 0.8% drop in the rate of case growth.
Sep 2 JAMA Netw Open
Sep 2 Northwestern University
press release

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