And excess mortality during Omicron was more than triple that during Delta.
Your weekly pandemic wrap from Australia and around the world.
- Influenza vaccination could reduce the risk of severe covid in the short term.
- Excess mortality from Omicron wave was three times higher than for Delta wave.
- Two-month-long decline in new covid infections globally has plateaued.
Vaccination against influenza may have the additional benefit of a short-term reduction in the risk of covid, according to non-peer-reviewed data.
A study published on the preprint server MedRxiv involving more than 12,000 healthcare workers found that that those who received the influenza vaccination were nearly 30% less likely to test positive for covid and nearly 90% less likely to experience severe covid in the one to two months after getting the flu shot.
“These findings may be explained by influenza vaccination triggering a nonspecific immune activation, or trained or bystander immunity that is protective against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the authors wrote.
Weekly excess mortality during the Omicron wave was three times higher than what was seen during Delta, according to data from the highly-vaccinated US state of Massachusetts.
A paper published in JAMA compared excess mortality – defined as the difference between expected and observed deaths – in the Delta period from June to December 2021, and the Omicron period from late December 2021 to February 2022.
This revealed that Omicron’s wave was associated with a 3.3 times higher rate of excess deaths than Delta’s wave, and this excess mortality difference was consistent across all adult age groups.
“The present findings indicate that a highly contagious (although relatively milder) SARS-CoV-2 variant can quickly confer substantial excess mortality, even in a highly vaccinated and increasingly immune population,” the authors wrote.
The nearly two-month-long drop in new covid infections globally has plateaued, with the World Health Organisation reporting a 1% increase in the past week.
Australia is still recording one of the highest new infection rates around the world, although new infections have also surged in the US, Germany and Japan.
The good news is deaths continue to decline, with a further 21% drop in the past week compared to the previous week. However, Australia has now passed 8000 covid deaths in total, and more than 5700 of those have happened since the start of this year.