Age-specific severity of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in February 2020 to June 2021 in the Netherlands

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The severity of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 infection varies with age and time. Here, we quantify how age-specific risks of hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and death upon infection changed from February 2020 to June 2021 in the Netherlands.

METHODS: A series of large representative serology surveys allowed us to estimate age-specific numbers of infections in three epidemic periods (late-February 2020 to mid-June 2020, mid-June 2020 to mid-February 2021, and mid-February 2021 to late-June 2021). We accounted for reinfections and breakthrough infections. Severity measures were obtained by combining infection numbers with age-specific numbers of hospitalization, ICU admission, and excess all-cause deaths.

RESULTS: There was an accelerating, almost exponential, increase in severity with age in each period. The rate of increase with age was the highest for death and the lowest for hospitalization. In late-February 2020 to mid-June 2020, the overall risk of hospitalization upon infection was 1.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3-1.8%), the risk of ICU admission was 0.36% (95% CI: 0.31-0.42%), and the risk of death was 1.2% (95% CI: 1.0-1.4%). The risk of hospitalization was significantly increased in mid-June 2020 to mid-February 2021, while the risk of ICU admission remained stable over time. The risk of death decreased over time, with a significant drop among ≥70-years-olds in mid-February 2021 to late-June 2021; COVID-19 vaccination started early January 2021.

CONCLUSION: Whereas the increase in severity of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 with age remained stable, the risk of death upon infection decreased over time. A significant drop in risk of death among elderly coincided with the introduction of COVID-19 vaccination.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13174
Number of pages8
JournalInfluenza and Other Respiratory Viruses
Volume17
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Netherlands/epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • COVID-19
  • epidemiology
  • infection fatality ratio
  • disease severity

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