Covid to be the year’s third biggest killer

4 minute read

And the risk of dying from Omicron is less than half that from Delta.

Your weekly pandemic wrap from Australia and around the world.

8 August

Covid is on track to be the third-leading cause of death in Australia for 2022, eclipsed only by heart disease and dementia, according to analysis from the Actuaries Institute.
The official tally of covid deaths for 2022 is nearly 10,000 but after adjusting for the proportion of those deaths that are thought to be “with” covid, the Institute estimates around 7100 of those deaths are “from” covid.
Over that same period, there were around 10,000 deaths each from ischaemic heart disease and dementia.
The analysis also looked at excess deaths – the number of actual deaths over the number of expected deaths based on historical trends – in the first third of 2022. There were around 3200 excess deaths from causes other than covid, including heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.

The risk of death from Omicron infection is 66% lower than with the Delta variant, even after accounting for factors such as vaccination status, sex, age, and health status.
A paper published in the BMJ presented analysis of the relative risk of death in just over one million people with covid, nearly four-fifths of whom were infected with Omicron and the remainder with Delta.
People aged 18-59 years showed a greater reduction in the risk death with Omicron than did those aged 70 and older.
The difference in mortality rates between the two variants was similar for all vaccination statuses, although less evident among those who had received two vaccinations.
“Our work highlights the importance of the vaccination booster campaign because the reduction in risk of covid-19 death was most pronounced in people who had received a booster or third vaccination,” the authors wrote.

As many as one in eight people with covid are still experiencing moderately severe covid-related symptoms at three months after infection, according to a large population-based cohort study.
According to a paper published in The Lancet, the study enrolled around 4200 people with covid and 8400 sex- and age-matched controls without covid, all of whom were already participating in a pre-existing longitudinal population-based cohort study and so had extensive data on their health before, during and after covid.
This revealed that nearly 13% of covid patients had persistent symptoms at 90-150 days after their infection which could be attributed to covid, including chest pain, difficulty or pain when breathing, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, and general tiredness. Women were more likely to show persistent symptoms than men.
“This finding shows that post-covid-19 condition is an urgent problem with a mounting human toll,” the authors wrote.
Meanwhile, a second study found that children and adolescents who had had covid had twice the odds of acute pulmonary embolism, myocarditis and cardiomyopathy more than two months after infection compared to those without covid.
The study, published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, compared outcomes in more than 781,000 children aged 0-17 years with covid, and 2.3 million without, at least 60 days after infection.
This revealed a 17% higher risk of smell and taste disturbances, 87% higher rate of venous thromboembolic events, 32% higher rate of renal failure, 23% higher rate of type 1 diabetes, 17% higher rate of type 2 diabetes and 16% higher rate of cardiac dysrhythmias compared to those without covid.

Some “expired” batches of Paxlovid can now be used up to six months after their printed expiry date provided they have been stored below 25C, the TGA has advised.
The listed batches of Paxlovid were those that were supplied before the TGA allowed for the shelf-life of Paxlovid to be extended from 12 months to 18 months, so the expiry date on the labels reflects the earlier shelf life.
The specific batch numbers are available on the TGA website.

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