Risk of hospitalization twice as high for delta

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The risk of hospitalization is about twice as high with the delta variant as with the alpha variant of the coronavirus, according to a study of 40,000 corona cases in England. The study was primarily devoted to the risk for the unvaccinated.
The risk of hospitalization is probably about twice as high for infection with the delta variant of the coronavirus as for the alpha variant, according to a study. Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Public Health England evaluated more than 40,000 corona cases in England from the end of March to the end of May 2021. The results, published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, can be related primarily to the risk for the unvaccinated.

The data do not allow any conclusions to be drawn for the fully vaccinated. Their numerical proportion was too small.

Risk of hospitalization twice as high with delta as with alpha
Previous studies had mainly shown that the delta variant was more transmissible, but there were hardly any reliable statements about the risk of severe courses of disease. The scientists now used the results of tens of thousands of positive tests that had been assigned to delta or alpha via genetic analyses. Accordingly, just under 9,000 were due to delta, and around 35,000 to alpha. In relation to this, the researchers looked at the number of hospital admissions.

After adjusting the data for factors such as age and demographic characteristics that typically favor the risk of serious illness, they found a mean 2.26-fold higher risk of hospitalization within two weeks of testing for infection with delta. Accordingly, the risk of needing to visit an emergency room or be hospitalized within 14 days was 1.45-fold higher with delta than with alpha.

Only 1.8 percent vaccinated among 40,000 cases
Among the more than 40,000 cases examined in the study, only 1.8 percent were fully vaccinated, which the researchers interpret as renewed confirmation that the vaccines are very effective in protecting people. Seventy-four percent of the infected people considered were unvaccinated, and 24 percent were only partially vaccinated, meaning they had received about only one dose of vaccine. Because of the paucity of data available for this purpose, the researchers cannot make any conclusions about whether a higher risk of severe disease is also present in those who have been vaccinated.

“Our evaluation shows that delta outbreaks without vaccination are a significantly greater burden on the health care system than an alpha epidemic,” said one of the study authors, Anne Presanis of the University of Cambridge. “Getting fully vaccinated is critical to reducing one’s risk of symptomatic infection and reducing the risk of becoming severely ill and hospitalized from a delta infection.”

No data on pre-existing conditions
The authors cite as weaknesses in their study that they did not have data on their patients’ pre-existing conditions. Also, they say, it’s possible that the rules for hospitalizations changed during the trial period. The researchers at least tried to minimize these factors as much as possible in their calculations.

The delta variant, first detected in India, is now the dominant one in many countries. Experts expect it to largely displace other variants worldwide – unless an even more contagious one spreads. Delta was first detected in England in March.

— sources: APA/vienna.at/picture:pixabay.com

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