Australia

Why the latest COVID-19 wave is ‘perverse’ affecting one group in particular

up to date One age group has been more severely affected than previous outbreaks: the elderly.
Earlier this year, the summer Omicron wave was dubbed a ‘youth epidemic’, with hospitalization surges, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, with young Australians particularly affected.
However, the current winter outbreak, caused by the more virulent subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, appears to affect people over 60 years of age more.

A graph tracking hospitalizations shows a clear spike in the proportion of elderly patients towards mid- to late-April.

The proportion of people aged 60 and over admitted to hospital in New South Wales increased from late April to May.Source: NSW Health sauce: SBS News / Source: NSW Health

Just under half of NSW hospitalizations in the week ending 26 February were over the age of 60, up to around 66% in the week ending 30 July.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazard told SBS News that the current winter wave has seen more people aged 65 and over compared to the early summer wave caused by variants BA.1 and BA.2. He said the proportion of people infected is increasing.

It is definitely affecting older people more than previous waves.

Prof. Peter Collignon

“The number of cases among the elderly has almost quadrupled,” said Hazzard.
About 19% of COVID-19 cases in New South Wales are in people over the age of 60, up from just 6.31% in the week ending 5 March, according to the latest figures.

About 16,823 people tested positive for COVID-19 in the week ending July 30, compared with 4,174 in March.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazard.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazard says the latest wave of COVID is affecting older people more than previous waves. sauce: AAP

Some of the difference may be related to younger people being less likely to report a positive test result, but Hazard said more older people were infected. increase.

“The clear message is that older people are still vulnerable,” he said.

“They should do everything possible to get vaccine doses.”

The ‘perverse’ reason the COVID wave may be affecting older people

Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious disease expert at the Australian National University, said many complex factors could be involved in the high rate of hospitalization among older people.
However, he noted that the January outbreak had a greater impact on young people, as they were the ones most likely to socialize after the lockdown.
Professor Collignon told SBS News, “They just went out there and really, if you wanted to, party. “So there were more infections in that age group.”

In contrast, many older Australians at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 continued to limit contact and were more cautious, making them less likely to become infected.

For adolescents infected with COVID-19, this also led to improved immunity, which, combined with adequate vaccination, may have provided them with a more protective “hybrid immunity” than simply being vaccinated. I have.
Professor Collignon said, “This, in turn, means that the elderly are a more vulnerable proportion of the population.

At the same time, many Australians are easing mask use, social distancing and indoor socializing.

Professor Collignon says COVID-19 is now “infecting everyone” with the emergence of the more virulent BA.4 and BA.5 variants.
Professor Collignon said, “I think the rate of infection[in the elderly]is higher, especially compared to a year ago, because there is so much circulation.”
“It’s definitely affecting older people more than previous waves.”

Once infected, older people are also more likely to be hospitalized for serious illness.

Immunizations may also play a role

Professor Michael Toole, an epidemiologist at the Barnett Institute, said Australians’ reluctance to take third and fourth vaccinations may also be a factor.
He said in January that more than 90% of all age groups had received two doses of the vaccine in most jurisdictions.
Prof Toole told SBS News, “Almost everyone was comparable with regard to the two doses.”

This means that the January wave was “overwhelmingly a youth epidemic,” as COVID-19 was spreading primarily among young people.

young people wearing masks

Young people may have better immunity to COVID after being infected earlier this year. sauce: Getty

In recent months, booster vaccination coverage has declined.

By May 14, only 70% of Australians had received at least three injections, and many may have missed their deadline by this time.
The frequency of the third dose has since improved, but the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI) recommends a fourth dose for people over the age of 50.

Only 63% of people over the age of 65 received a second booster, according to Federal Health Service figures released this week.

2nd (green dots), 3rd (yellow), and 4th (red) doses of COVID vaccination rates for people aged 65 and over.

COVID vaccination coverage among those 65 and older is declining, with red dots showing the percentage of those who received the fourth dose. sauce: SBS News

Vaccination offers some protection against infection, but its main benefit is reducing the risk of serious illness and death.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data released in February found that mortality from COVID was higher among older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions.It also showed the mortality rate .
Data from the New South Wales Department of Health suggests that COVID-19 infections in New South Wales have peaked and the number of hospitalizations has plateaued, but Hazard said this is something people should be aware of. said that this does not mean that we should stop paying for
“Based on past experience, the end of one plateau is no guarantee that another plateau will not come,” he said.

“Think about it, everyone. We’ve all been through it… I don’t think this virus will give up easily.

Why the latest COVID-19 wave is ‘perverse’ affecting one group in particular

Source link Why the latest COVID-19 wave is ‘perverse’ affecting one group in particular

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