HealthDay News — Few excess deaths were reported in Massachusetts during the period of predominance of BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 subvariants, despite a surge of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections, according to a research letter published online Aug. 22 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Jeremy Samuel Faust, M.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues assembled population data for 2014 to 2019 and weekly mortality data from January 2015 to February 2020, and projected the weekly number of expected deaths for Massachusetts for the pandemic period (Feb. 3, 2020, to June 26, 2022).
The researchers found that in the 18-week period after BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 subvariants became prevalent (week ending Feb. 27, 2022), zero to one excess deaths per 100,000 person-weeks were reported, corresponding to 134 excess deaths, despite at least 226,857 newly recorded cases. Compared with the initial eight-week omicron (B.1.1.529) wave, during which excess mortality was 4.0 per 100,000 person-weeks (2,239 excess deaths), this value corresponded to a 97.3 percent reduction. Compared with the combined 26-week delta and delta-to-omicron transition periods, during which excess mortality was 1.5 per 100,000 person-weeks (2,643 excess deaths), this value corresponded with a 92.7 percent reduction. However, during this period, new COVID-19-associated hospitalizations continued to occur.
“The uncoupling of excess mortality and new COVID-19 cases, in the absence of decreases in the mean age of infected individuals, suggests that in our highly vaccinated state, current levels of immunity are considerable, leaving many, if not most, individuals at high risk with substantial protection against the most severe outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the authors write.
Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and other industries.