A major study in India offers insights into on how the spread of the virus differs by age and gender.

An ambitious new study of nearly 85,000 coronavirus cases in India and nearly 600,000 of their contacts, published Wednesday in the journal Science, offers important insights not just for India, but for other low- and middle-income countries.

India now has more than six million cases, second only to the United States.

Among the findings of the study: The median hospital stay before death from Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, was five days in India, compared with two weeks in the United States, possibly because of limited access to quality care. And the trend in increasing deaths with age seemed to drop off after age 65 — perhaps because Indians who live past that age tend to be relatively wealthy and have access to good health care.

The contact tracing study also found that children of all ages can become infected with the coronavirus and spread it to others — offering compelling evidence on one of the most divisive questions about the virus.

“The claims that children have no role in the infection process are certainly not correct,” said Dr. Joseph Lewnard, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study. “There’s, granted, not an enormous number of kids in the contact tracing data, but those who are in it are certainly transmitting.”

And the report confirmed, as other studies have, that a small number of people are responsible for seeding a vast majority of new infections.

Though its overall total of cases is huge, the per capita number of cases reported daily in India — and in many other low-income countries, including in Africa — is lower than in Spain, France or even the United States. And its number of deaths has not yet topped 100,000 — which has surprised some scientists.

The study focused on two southern Indian states, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which together have a population of about 128 million, and represent two of the five Indian states with the most cases. They also have among the most sophisticated health care systems in the country.

Contact tracers reached more than three million contacts of the 435,539 cases in these two states, although this still did not represent the full set of contacts. The researchers analyzed data for the 575,071 contacts for whom test information was available.

The data revealed that the people infected first — known as index cases — were more likely to be male and older than their contacts. That may be because men are more likely to be out in situations where they might be infected, more likely to become symptomatic and get tested if they do become infected, or perhaps more likely to respond to contact tracers’ calls for information, said Dr. Lewnard. They also found that infected people tend to spread the virus to those of similar ages.

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Major hospital system struggling to recover computer network operations after cyberattack

Universal Health Services, a large hospital system with more than 400 locations across the country, was still working Tuesday to get its network and operations back online after a cyberattack early Sunday morning.

a close up of a sign: A logo sign outside the headquarters of Universal Health Services, Inc., in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania on June 28, 2015. Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***

© Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa/AP
A logo sign outside the headquarters of Universal Health Services, Inc., in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania on June 28, 2015. Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***

“We are making steady progress with recovery efforts,” the Pennsylvania-based company said in a statement late Tuesday. “Certain applications have already started coming online again, with others projected to be restored on a rolling basis across the U.S.”


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The company said it “experienced an information technology security incident in the early morning hours of September 27, 2020,” and as a result it was forced to shut down its entire computer network, impacting patient data, laboratory systems and clinical information.

“Patient care continues to be delivered safely and effectively,” the company’s statement noted, adding that at the moment there’s “no evidence that patient or employee data was accessed, copied or misused.”

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist at George Washington University Medical Center, a UHS acute care hospital impacted by the attack, told CNN it may take several days to reset the system.

“They proactively took down all, their entire network, to protect the network when they detected the attack and they’re working using these downtime protocols to maintain clinical operations in a safe way while they slowly bring systems back up online,” he said.

In the meantime, he said it’s a “big deal.”

Reiner said the affected facilities are back to using manual systems, which was once the norm, so patient safety isn’t necessarily a problem at all. “But it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal,” he repeated.

He said he had to cancel several surgical procedures Tuesday and added it’s “much more cumbersome to track down patient data.”

The UHS statement said its facilities are using “established back-up processes including offline documentation methods” — meaning pen and paper.

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Cyberattack hobbles major hospital chain’s US facilities

WASHINGTON (AP) — A computer outage at a major hospital chain thrust healthcare facilities across the U.S. into chaos Monday, with treatment impeded as doctors and nurses already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic were forced to rely on paper backup systems.

Universal Health Services Inc., which operates more than 250 hospitals and other clinical facilities in the U.S., blamed the outage on an unspecified IT “security issue” in a statement posted to its website Monday but provided no details about the incident, such as how many facilities were affected and whether patients had to be diverted to other hospitals.

UHS workers reached by The Associated Press at company facilities in Texas and Washington, D.C. described mad scrambles after the outage began overnight Sunday to render care, including longer emergency room waits and anxiety over determining which patients might be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Fortune 500 company, with 90,000 employees, said “patient care continues to be delivered safely

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