COVID-19 Roundup: Immunity May Wear Off; Update on Vitamin D Deficiency; and CDC Reports on ‘Excess Deaths’

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October 30, 2020


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British Study Finds Immunity to COVID-19 Wears Off Over Time

A study involving more than 365,000 people across England indicates that immunity to the coronavirus is gradually wearing off, according to researchers who used home testing kits as the primary measure of antibodies.

There was a more than 26 percent decline in COVID-19 antibodies over just three months, the study’s authors write. The findings are from the React-2 study, which is based on finger-prick blood testing at home.

“As a whole, these data suggest the possibility that decreasing population immunity will lead to an increased risk of reinfection as detectable antibodies decline in the population,” said Graham Cooke, co-author of the report and professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College London.

The first phase results, based on data from 100,000 people, were released in August. It found that about 6 percent of the population in England had the antibodies.

The newer study – not yet peer-reviewed – extends this with more testing among two separate group of participants, each yielding results from more than 100,000 adults. The findings reveal that just 4.4 percent of those tested in the second half of September had detectable coronavirus antibodies.

“We observe a significant decline in the proportion of the population with detectable antibodies over three rounds of national surveillance, using a self-administered lateral flow test, 12, 18 and 24 weeks after the first peak of infections in England,” the team wrote in a pre-print version of their report, released before peer review.


Study: Majority of COVID-19 Hospital Patients Deficient in Vitamin D Levels

Research is mounting that indicates vitamin D may lower the risk of severe illness if you are diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The most recent study, published this week in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that 80 percent of coronavirus patients in a hospital in Spain were deficient in vitamin D.

The latest research suggests that more patients who are COVID-19 positive should be tested for vitamin D deficiencies, particularly those who are at high risk for severe illness, such as older patients or those with underlying health issues.

The study compared two groups of people. They determined the vitamin D levels of 216 COVID-19 patients in the Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla. Then they took the vitamin D levels of 197 healthy people who were similar in terms of demographics such as age and sex.

Researchers excluded coronavirus patients who were taking vitamin D supplements. They found that 82.2 percent of COVID-19 patients were deficient in vitamin D, compared to 47.2 percent of people in the comparison group. Overall, male COVID-19 patients’ vitamin D levels were lower than women’s.

Vitamin D has serves several functions to maintain our health. It regulated the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitates normal immune system function. Vitamin deficiency is widespread in the U.S. Half of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, with much higher rates seen in Black Americans, Hispanics and individuals living in areas where it is challenging to get enough sun exposure during the winter.


CDC: Two-Thirds of ‘Excess Deaths’ This Year Attributed to COVID-19

Overall, an estimated 299,028 “excess deaths” occurred nationwide from late January through October 3, 2020, with 198,081 (66 percent) of these deaths attributed to COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new report this week.

That leaves about 100,000 fatalities that were indirectly related to COVID-19 — meaning they would not have occurred if not for the coronavirus, the CDC said.

Excess deaths are defined as the number of persons who have died from all causes, in excess of the expected number of deaths for a given place and time, the CDC said. The largest percentage increases were seen among adults aged 25–44 years and among Hispanic or Latino persons, the CDC stated.

“Estimates of excess deaths” can provide a comprehensive account of mortality associated with COVID-19, including deaths that are “directly or indirectly attributable” to COVID-19, the CDC said.

Estimates of the deaths directly attributable to COVID-19 might be limited by factors, “such as the availability and use of diagnostic testing (including postmortem testing) and the accurate and complete reporting of cause of death information on the death certificate,” the CDC said.

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