“Some people still believe that Covid-19 is no worse than a bad dose of the flu. They’re seriously wrong, “said Calum Semple, a professor of child health and epidemic medicine at the University of Liverpool and chief investigator of the study.
“Despite the best supportive care we can provide, the crude death rate for people admitted to hospital with severe Covid-19 is 35% to 40%, which is similar to that of people admitted to hospital. Ebola hospital. “
The average Ebola fatality rate is around 50%, according to the World Health Organization, although case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in previous outbreaks.
“People need to hear this and put it in their heads,” added Semple. “The reason the government wants to keep people at home until the epidemic subsides is because it is an incredibly dangerous disease.”
Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and co-director of the study, said: “These are sobering numbers. All of this hard data masks the human tragedy that each of these cases represents. “
The study, published as a preprint and not yet peer reviewed, found that 17% of people admitted to hospital ended up in intensive care units (ICUs). Of these, 45% died and for those receiving mechanical ventilation, the death rate rose to 53%, with 27% remaining in hospital when their outcome was recorded. For those hospitalized, the death rate was 31%.
The authors stated that many patients are not transferred to intensive care for more intensive procedures because it would be a poor clinical decision, not because of bed shortages.
“Intensive care is not something where the sickest patients die,” said Dr. Annemarie Docherty, an intensive care consultant and researcher at the University of Edinburgh. “We have specific tools like ventilation, kidney support for the kidneys, which we can provide as people improve. For Covid, all we can offer is organ support while people improve. For many people in hospital, this is simply not appropriate and it is unlikely that people will improve with these interventions. “
The study also found more about the most vulnerable groups, with men more likely to be admitted to the ICU and more likely to die, with the differences becoming more striking in the older groups. The most important health risk factor was obesity, increasing the risk of death by 37% – more than heart disease (31%), lung disease (19%) or kidney disease (25 %).
The link with obesity could be due to the condition usually causing related problems in the lungs and kidneys and because fat cells increase the inflammatory state of the body.
“No one who is a grown-up person is a grown-up person in isolation,” said Semple, adding that obesity is also strongly associated with socioeconomic status. “Together, it makes driving very difficult for these people when they catch Covid,” he said.
Semple said the results could influence who the government identifies as high risk for protection policies as the lockout is lifted and the team develops an interactive tool that will allow people to get a better idea of their own risks, depending on sex, age and comorbidities.
The study was carried out by a consortium of researchers in more than 160 hospitals, which has now recruited 25,000 patients and taken biological samples from 1000 of them, making it the largest study in Europe on the results and risk factors. The team is also looking closely at why a disproportionate number of admissions and deaths are seen among blacks and people from Southeast Asia.
Semple said crucial lessons could be learned from how the Ebola outbreak was brought under control. “The key to eradicating Ebola was communicating the test results the same day or the next morning, which helped to isolate the cases correctly and to quickly release them from the suspect cases,” he said. he declares. “It will be the same for Covid-19. We need quick and widespread access to test results the same day or the next morning to keep Covid-19 at bay, which will allow our society and our economy to recover. “