UK Government Study: 81% of Care Home Residents Asymptomatic

Even test-positive oldsters are unlikely to actually fall sick

This is pretty extraordinary. According to a UK Government study, 80.9% of residents in care homes for the over-65s in England who tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic:

The results are based on analysis of the survey responses from 5,126 out of 9,081 care homes for the over 65s in England. Care home staff were asked to report on the total number of confirmed cases among staff and residents since the start of the pandemic.

The weighted period prevalence1 of infection in:

  • residents was 10.5% (95% confidence interval: 9.9% to 11.1%)
  • staff was 3.8% (95% confidence interval: 3.4 to 4.2%)

Based on analysis of test results from the Whole Care Home Testing Programme (of all 9,081 homes tested via pillar 2 between 11 May and 7 June):2

  • 2.4% of all tests were positive (9,674 out of 397,197)
  • 3.9% of residents tested positive (6,747 out of 172,066)
  • 3.3% of asymptomatic residents tested positive (5,455 out of 163,945)
  • 80.9% of residents who tested positive were asymptomatic (5,455 out of 6,747)
  • 1.2% of asymptomatic staff tested positive (2,567 out of 210,620)

The survey provided data on denominators (staff and residents) as well as estimates of infections, mortality, and risk factors for infection since the start of the pandemic, to provide figures for prevalence.

Vivaldi then undertook multivariable analysis to identify characteristics of high-risk care homes, controlling for other factors (below).

A reaction to the study in the Science Media Centre contains this gem from Sarah Harper, Clore Professor of Gerontology at the University of Oxford:

Our early conclusions that younger people were generally asymptomatic, but older adults were less likely to be, has now been questioned. This survey further emphasizes that the disease is complex and its progress and impact still unclear. There has been a general assumption in some media reports that COVID-19 was a death sentence for all older people – this study emphasizes that many older adults as well as younger people can have the disease mildly.

So COVID-19 is not a death sentence for the over-65? Who knew?

Well, Dr Scott Atlas does. The senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center has given an interview to Fox News in which he says that for those under 70, the mortality rate for COVID-19 is lower than it is for seasonal flu.

Meanwhile, Boris has put his foot in it by suggesting care home managers are to blame for the high death toll in the sector. The prime minister said on Monday that “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures”.

That’s a bit rich, considering the Chief Executive of the NHS ordered hospitals to discharge as many patients as possible in March without checking first to make sure they weren’t carrying COVID-19. Given the number of infectious people flooding into care homes as a result of that diktat, I’m not sure following more rigorous social distancing policies in these settings would have made any difference.

Source: Lockdown Skeptics

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