Covid Deaths: Is Disease Getting Less Deadly?

Covid deaths

One of the groups hurt the most by the pandemic is children. While many children do well with remote learning, many do not.  

Most children learn the best in classrooms, surrounded by their peers.

The problem has been how to open schools safely. After all, the kids, their families, teachers and staff are all at risk from coronavirus.

Studies in Germany and Norway suggest a renewal of widespread school closures would have a limited effect on curbing Sars-Cov-2.

One study suggested that “day cares are not sources of infection, children are not sources of infection,”

The German studies include an analysis published last week by the Institute of Labor Economics (ILE) in Bonn. It found that the number of new cases in the country had not increased when schools were reopened following the summer break.

The authors of the report found the number of newly confirmed cases actually dropped gradually in German states that reopened schools, compared with those that did not.

That result obviously ran counter to what many people would expect.

The research revealed some remarkable numbers . . .

It found that since schools had reopened, only 0.04% of pupils had become infected in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The states of Schleswig-Holstein and Bavaria also had a rate of 0.04%, while Berlin’s was slightly higher at 0.07%.

The ILE researchers attributed the low infection levels in the German schools surveyed to strict hygiene measures. These included mask-wearing, teaching in small fixed groups and rapid testing and quarantining of classes where a student or teacher had tested positive. Norway’s National Institute of Public Health analyzed schools opened between June and October. It found that the source of infections in its schools were among pupils infected by adults in their family rather than others at school.

Gwen Knight, assistant professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has compiled a database of reports of “superspreader” outbreaks worldwide. She says she had so far identified relatively few incidents within educational settings.

That is good news for students and their parents.      

The Big News

Covid Deaths: Rate Declines

The mortality rate for Covid-19 patients has dropped substantially since the start of the pandemic. This is according to two new peer-reviewed studies. The studies (of a single health system) found that Covid deaths had dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points. Hospitalized patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic. But now, they now have a 7.6% chance. The dropping rate of covid deaths offers proof that doctors are getting better at treating those who are infected.

Covid-19 Spreads Across All of the United States

This week, the national seven-day case average closed on the 60,000 level. This marks an increase of about 73% in just five and a half weeks! The numbers are extremely concerning as many parts of the country enter the colder months. And, as the holiday season approaches, families face a difficult choice whether to risk traditional family gatherings.

Obesity Problems for a Covid Vaccine

Researchers fear that vaccines may not be as effective in obese people. This is a population that is already highly vulnerable to COVID-19. Obesity can cause chronic inflammation and curtail gut microbes. Each can affect immune response. Studies of vaccines against influenza are a warning. They have shown that responses in people who are obese are reduced compared with those in people who are lean. The good news is that there might be ways to compensate. That may mean giving people who are obese extra doses of vaccine.

Global Trade Faces Uncertainty

Global trade is making a tentative recovery from the pandemic. There are positive signs from China and other Asian countries. But the overall outlook remains uncertain, the UN trade and development body Unctad said Wednesday. Unctad estimates that world trade will fall 5% this quarter from 2019 levels. That would be an improvement over the nearly 20% decline in the second quarter of the year.

Work From Home Is a Permanent Change

The pandemic has forced many people to work from home. Now, many corporations think this change is permanent. A survey of organizations from S&P Global Market Intelligence brought that message home. Nearly two-thirds of the organizations surveyed said a significant increase in remote work is a permanent change. One-third pointed to a corresponding permanent reduction in their office footprint. Over two-thirds of the organizations (69%) said at least 75% of their workforce can work effectively remotely.           

The Coronavirus Numbers

Here are the numbers from Thursday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:

  • 41,310,004 Infected Worldwide
  • 1,132,676 Covid Deaths Worldwide
  • 8,338,413 Infected in the U.S.
  • 222,220 Covid Deaths in the U.S.

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What’s Next

Stocks look set drift, little changed ahead of tonight’s final presidential debate.

The markets await to see if there will be more fireworks at tonight’s debate. That’s because the hope for a quick coronavirus stimulus package looks all but dead.

Adding to market unease was news that both Russia and Iran had obtained voter information as Russia did in 2016. These countries might use it to try to influence the outcome of the election, according to the FBI. 

That sort of information increased the likelihood of either election outcome being “messy.” That’s unless we have a blowout win favoring one candidate.

It will be interesting to see if yesterday’s mini-rotation continues. The rotation was from WFH (work from home) stocks to digital advertising winners.

Social media stocks soared higher after a blowout quarter for Snap.

Shares in Snap rose 28% and Twitter rose to the top of the S&P 500 with a gain of more than 8%. Facebook rose over 4% and Pinterest jumped 9% to a record high.

Shares in work-from-home stocks like Peloton and Zoom fell.   

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Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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