High Delta variant prevalence in children places millions of adults in nursing homes at risk

The Delta variant continues to infect a substantial number of school-aged children as school begins throughout the US. This may exacerbate transmission to the general population and subsequently place millions of adults at risk for severe COVID-19, such as those living in nursing homes at an additional risk for contracting COVID-19, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData, comments: “Although recent statements by the CDC director indicate minor differences in the severity of illness among children infected with the Delta variant versus other COVID-19 variants, asymptomatic individuals and individuals with mild illness may still transmit the virus. Therefore, the increasing number of children with the virus may increase the likelihood of transmission to other individuals at higher risk for severe disease.”

Adults living in nursing homes are at a particularly high risk for severe COVID-19 disease due to a variety of factors.

Gabriel continues: “This group accounts for over 1.27 million individuals in 2021. The elderly in nursing homes are at particular risk, because age increases the likelihood of hospitalization and death among the unvaccinated, and COVID-19 vaccines may have waning effectiveness in older age groups. In addition, the high population density and enclosed spaces in nursing homes make transmission much more likely in this population.”

The epidemiological situation may worsen and increase the risk of infecting adults living in nursing homes this fall and winter.

Gabriel adds: “Moreover, many children are under 12 years old and cannot yet be vaccinated, which increases the risk of infection and subsequent transmission. According to the CDC, children are less likely to be tested, indicating that the pediatric COVID-19 prevalence is likely underreported.

“To mitigate this risk, it is imperative for parents and school districts to implement measures to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission such as masks, social distancing, and vaccines among eligible school aged children.”

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