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Home / Health / Mortality was reduced by 18% for COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital as treatments improved.

Mortality was reduced by 18% for COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital as treatments improved.




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Two large recent studies showed that people hospitalized for COVID-19 in March were three times more likely to die than those hospitalized for COVID-19 in August.

The first study used data from three New York City hospitals. The chance of dying for someone hospitalized for coronavirus in those hospitals dropped from 25.6% adjusted in March to 7.6% in August. Second study, looking at the rate survivors in England, have found similar improvements.

Significant and continuous improvement

In March, out of 1,724 people hospitalized for COVID-19 at three New York hospitals, 430 died. In August, 134 people were hospitalized and 5 died. This change in raw data could be attributable to who goes to the hospital – for example, if only the elderly are sick, the death rate will be higher – but the researchers controlled this in their calculation. surname.

To better understand what caused this reduction in hospitalization mortality, the researchers took into account a number of possible confounding factors, including the age of the hospitalized patient, race and ethnicity, the amount of oxygen the support individual needs when they arrive at the hospital and risk factors such as being overweight, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, lung disease, etc.

Regardless of their specific situation, a person hospitalized in March for COVID-19 is three times more likely to die than a person hospitalized in August.

Research in the UK looked at coronavirus hospitalized patients who were so ill that they had to go to a high-dependency unit (HDU) – where they were closely monitored for their oxygen needs – or an intensive care unit (ICU). As in the New York study, the researchers also took into account confounding factors, but they calculated survival instead of mortality.

Considering 21,082 hospital admissions in the UK between March 29 and June 21, 2020, the authors noticed a continuous improvement in survival rates of 12.7 percent per week in HDU and 8.9 percent. per week in the ICU. Overall, from March to June, the survival rate improved from 71.6% to 92.7% in the HDU and from 58% to 80.4% in the ICU. The increases in survival rates after hospitalization for coronavirus in the UK reflect changes in New York City.

Better treatment and responsible better care

The main reason researchers think coronavirus patients are getting better is simply that effective treatments for a virus that doesn’t exist in March are now available.

I am an infectious disease doctor practicing at the University of California, San Francisco, and I have seen these improvements with my own eyes. Initially, my colleagues and I didn’t know how to treat this brand new virus to flare up by the end of 2019. But in the spring, big studies were testing the treatments. is different for COVID-19 and we currently use an antiviral called remdesivir and a steroid called dexamethasone to treat our hospitalized coronavirus patients.

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Along with these new treatments, doctors have gained experience and learned simple techniques that improve results over time, such as placing hypoxic patients on their tummy to helps distribute oxygen more evenly throughout the lungs. As time went on, hospitals were better prepared to handle the growing demand for oxygen and other special care services for coronavirus infected patients.

Although improvements in care and effective drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone have helped a lot, the virus is still dangerous. People who are seriously ill may experience prolonged fatigue symptoms and other debilitating effects. Therefore, other treatments should be and still be being discovered.

One photo shows a bottle of dexamethasone.
Drugs such as dexamethasone and remdesivir work to fight coronavirus in severe cases of COVID-19, but behavioral interventions can also play a big role.
Photo AP / Nati Harnik

Public health measures also help

Treatment has definitely gotten better. But the authors of the New York City study specifically mentioned that public health measures not only cause hospitalization rates to drop drastically – 1,724 in March vs. 134 in August – but may also help. reduce mortality.

My own research suggests that being away from society and masking can reduce the amount of virus people are exposed to, leading to less severe cases of COVID-19. It is important to continue to follow public health measures to help us weather a pandemic. This will slow the spread of the virus and help keep people healthier until a safe and effective vaccine is widely available.


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