A study of the evolution of deaths from covid shows that hospital saturation was key

American researchers have tried to discover the cause of the observed changes in mortality from covid during the pandemic

Mortality fell, in the US, by 38% between March and May 2020, but then stagnated for months

They have not found any factor that depends on the type of patient: “The decrease in mortality was due to an improvement in the saturation of hospitals and in treatments”

A new study, the largest to date, conducted in hospitals in the United States has addressed the causes of mortality from covid-19 during the different phases of the pandemic. The records of more than 20,000 patients over nine months in 107 hospitals, and the main conclusion throws an unknown for future research.

During those months, tried to discover the most likely cause of the observed changes in mortality, controlling the patient’s age, sex, comorbidities and the severity of the disease when the patient was admitted. But found that none of these factors fully explained the decline of mortality rates during the first months of the pandemic.

Because they saw that although the typology of the patients in terms of age, sex or comorbidities it was the same, the mortality of those admitted to the hospital evolved unevenly. “It decreased by more than a third until June and then the same rate remained until November. The difference in mortality rates between the months of March and April and the months after it did not appear to be associated with changes in the characteristics of hospitalized patients “. What, then, could have been the cause of these changes?

“Understand why death rates have changed It is important for health workers to work to improve patients with covid-19 ”, explains the doctor Gregory Roth, lead author of the study and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington (United States). Roth recommends further research to identify the causes and be able to prevent eventual increases in the death rate from covid.

Improved saturation of hospitals and treatments

Published in ‘JAMA Network Open’ magazine, it is the most comprehensive analysis yet of changes in hospital mortality during the pandemic. It was reduced by 38% between March and May 2020, but then it stopped decreasing in the rest of the period studied, until November 2020.

On March and April 2020, mortality was 19.1%. That data dropped significantly in May and June at 11.9%. But afterwards, that decrease practically stalled at 10% reflecting the data for October and November.

“Our results suggest that the decrease in mortality was due to an improvement in the saturation of hospitals and in treatments “Roth points out.
The researcher highlights the importance of taking these data into account, insofar as Future variants of the coronavirus may re-test hospital capacity from different countries.

“With more variants in circulation and many countries still struggling with hospital overload and the scarcity of resources, the more we know about this, the better “, warns the researcher.