81% of Care Home Residents Asymptomatic

By 7 July 2020

This is pretty extraordinary. According to a UK Government study, 80.9% of residents in care homes for the over-65s in England who tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic.

A reaction to the study in the Science Media Centre contains this gem from Sarah Harper, Clore Professor of Gerontology at the University of Oxford:

Our early conclusions that younger people were generally asymptomatic, but older adults were less likely to be, has now been questioned. This survey further emphasizes that the disease is complex and its progress and impact still unclear. There has been a general assumption in some media reports that COVID-19 was a death sentence for all older people – this study emphasizes that many older adults as well as younger people can have the disease mildly.

So COVID-19 is not a death sentence for the over-65? Who knew?

Well, Dr Scott Atlas does. The senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center has given an interview to Fox News in which he says that for those under 70, the mortality rate for COVID-19 is lower than it is for seasonal flu.

Meanwhile, Boris has put his foot in it by suggesting care home managers are to blame for the high death toll in the sector. The prime minister said on Monday that “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures”.

That’s a bit rich, considering the Chief Executive of the NHS ordered hospitals to discharge as many patients as possible in March without checking first to make sure they weren’t carrying COVID-19. Given the number of infectious people flooding into care homes as a result of that diktat, I’m not sure following more rigorous social distancing policies in these settings would have made any difference.


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