Health

Coronavirus patients are ‘much less likely to die now than in early days of pandemic’

PATIENTS admitted to hospital with the coronavirus are “much less likely to die now than in the early days of the pandemic”, a new study has found.

Experts found that over the course of the pandemic, doctors have become better at averting deaths of people they are treating with Covid-19.

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Patients admitted to hospital with the virus are more likely to survive now than at the peak of the pandemicGetty Images

Researchers at New York University found that there was a big drop in mortality rates among hospital cases.

This was seen across all age groups and included people with underlying health issues – which is a factor when it comes to the severity of the coronavirus and survival rates.

While mortality rates have gone down in Covid-19 patients, one of the study’s authors, Dr Leora Horwitz, said the mortality rate remained higher in other infectious diseases – including the flu.

She added that long-Covid could potentially be “very harmful”.

The researchers monitored more than 5,000 patients at a group of hospitals in New York from March to August.

The experts found that mortality among hospital patients fell by 18 per cent over the five months.

I do think this is good news, but it does not make the coronavirus a benign illness

Dr Leora HorwitzNew York University

At the start of the pandemic people had a 26 per cent change of dying – at the end this had dropped to just eight per cent.

At the peak of the pandemic in the UK, 3,099 people were admitted to hospital on April 1 – five months later on August 1 this fell to 50 people.

Data from the government’s coronavirus dashboard states that on October 1, 368 people were admitted to hospital.

On April 1, there were 698 deaths in England, on August 1 there were nine, and on October 1 there were 54. This shows that the second wave in England is not as strong as the first peak of the pandemic.

Treatments such as dexamethasone have been used in hospitals across the country to treat the virus – which has also significantly lowered mortality rates.

As well as this, most people have now got used to wearing masks and face coverings, while hand hygiene has also become more prevalent.

Experts say that this might be helping when it comes to how much of the virus a patient actually contracts.

Commenting on the drop in mortality rates found in the study, Dr Horwitz said: “I do think this is good news, but it does not make the coronavirus a benign illness.”

The study was previously shared as a preprint in August and an update is set to be released in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

The study looked at different factors such as age and other health conditions.

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The graph above shows hospital admissions in the UK from March to October[/caption]

Graph above shows the mortality rates from March to October of people who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19

Researchers adjusted their findings due to the fact that the virus is now more prevalent in younger and healthier people – while at the start of the pandemic it was more prevalent in older age groups.

Bilal Mateen, a data scientist at the Alan Turing Institute, said his research revealed that there had been a 20 per cent drop in mortality in Covid patients in hospitals in England.

This information was compiled of 21,000 hospital patients and was released as a preprint in August – with an updated expected later this month.

He added: “Clearly there’s been something that’s gone on that’s improved the risk of individuals who go into these settings with Covid-19.”

Hospitals are also less overstretched now.

In New York – which was hit particularly badly at the start of the pandemic, at its peak on April 10, it had a seven day average of infections of 9,877 – at the start of August this was 652.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia added that while the age of those entering hospital in the UK was now lower, he said it is a fact that the risk of death increases as we get older.

He added that when it comes to UK intensive care admissions, the risk of death for people under 70 has dropped by around 50 per cent – this he said was less in those over the age of 70.

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