23% patients on O2 support this time, less than previous waves: Pvt hospital group study

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Less than one in four patients admitted with Covid-19 during the current wave of the pandemic needed oxygen support as compared to nearly three in four requiring it during the delta variant driven wave in April-May last year, shows the analysis of patient data from Max group of hospitals.

Of the total hospitalisations across Max healthcare hospitals, 63% of patients needed oxygen support during the first wave, 74% during the second wave, and 23.4% during the current wave. There were fewer hospitalisations as well, even though the number of cases during the current wave reached the same levels as the previous wave.

The analysis is based on data from 13 hospitals run by the group across six states.

“Although the total number of cases in Delhi peaked at about 28,000 during the second and the third wave, the highest number of patients admitted with us was 2,000 during the second wave. This time, the highest number of admissions was around 415. Not just that, last time over 70% of the patients admitted needed oxygen support, including those admitted to the wards. This time, less than 25% need it and almost all of them are admitted to the ICUs,” said Dr Sandeep Buddhiraja, group medical director, Max Healthcare.

He added, “Over the last two weeks, we have seen a disproportionate increase in the number of people being admitted to the ICU, but it was expected. Usually, during the extremely cold months, we see an increase in the number of patients coming in with conditions such as heart attacks and stroke. Some of these patients test positive for the infection and are moved to the Covid-19 ICUs.”

He said that nearly 40% to 50%  patients admitted to the hospital during the previous wave did not have comorbidities or other risk factors. However, during the current wave, almost all the patients who needed admission had comorbidities. In-hospital mortality also dropped from 10.5% to 6%, according to the hospital’s data. This is lower than the 7.2% mortality seen even during the first wave of the pandemic at the hospital. 60% of the people who died in the hospital during the current wave of the pandemic were either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, according to the data. The hospital also said the deaths reported are largely in the elderly population (over 70 years) suffering from multiple comorbidities such as kidney diseases, heart diseases, diabetes, and cancers.

The hospital also did not see any surge in Covid-19 cases among children. Only 41 children were admitted with the infection across Max hospitals, of who seven needed ICU care with two on ventilator, as per the data. There were no deaths among the children. “Only 5% of the total admissions were in children. The disease is mild in children whether it is the delta or omicron variant. The most vulnerable remain the elderly and the co-morbid,” said Dr Buddhiraja.

Although the number of cases has started reducing, Dr Buddhiraja, warned that many patients may return with post-Covid-19 symptoms. “Last year, we showed that the severity of the disease did not have any impact on post-Covid-19 and long Covid-19 symptoms. Even those with a mild disease might get it. This time people are complaining of lethargy, hacking cough, and scratchy throat. But it is too early to say what symptoms they might experience. Other countries are reporting post-Covid-19 symptoms and there is no reason to believe we will not see it.”

He said, there was a need to routinely do a cardiac evaluation six to nine months after a Covid-19 infection, even a mild one, because some may develop conditions such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscles) or arrhythmia (irregular beating of the heart).

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