If you’ve been tracking the number of COVID-19 patients reported each day in Afternoon Newsthen you have seen an increase in the number of hospital admissions with COVID-19 in recent weeks.
But what does this increase actually mean?
We spoke to hospital physician Bradley Manning, MD, to answer that question (and more).
Is there more than meets the eye with the number of registered COVID-19 patients in it? Afternoon News?
“Yes, there is, and I can explain how. It starts with realizing that our hospitalized patients with COVID-19 fall into three different groups.
First, there is a group with what we call “classic COVID-19”, those who have a serious COVID illness that requires hospitalization. These patients often have respiratory failure or pneumonia and may require supplemental oxygen. They may also have kidney failure from dehydration or they may be at increased risk of developing blood clots. What we see is that these patients are more likely to be unvaccinated or may have been vaccinated but have significant co-morbidities or a disease that requires them to take drugs that weaken their immune systems.
In group two are those patients who: similar to those with “classic” COVID, but they are not as seriously ill. We see more such patients with the ommicron variant. These COVID patients present as a bad respiratory virus, sometimes similar to the flu, and have an underlying illness that puts them at increased risk for complications from COVID 19. For example, someone with emphysema, who carries chronic oxygen, may experience wheezing and more require oxygen and thus require hospitalization. Or a patient who has poor kidney function at the start may become dehydrated and have to come to the hospital for treatment for dehydration. So in a sense, these patients’ COVID infections contributed to their hospitalization, but they don’t have classic COVID disease. Instead, they have an underlying illness that puts them at risk of hospitalization if they get COVID 19.
The third group includes patients with: occasional COVID-19, meaning these patients have clearly been admitted for something else — such as a car accident, burns, or psychiatric problems — that is unrelated to COVID-19, but when they are tested on admission, they find they are positive. This group usually has no symptoms of COVID and requires hospitalization for their primary condition, not their COVID 19.”
Why is it important to distinguish between these groups?
“It’s important because people often see the numbers of COVID patients and automatically think of the classic COVID cases. We see that those who do not have classic COVID-19 have a shorter hospital stay than we have seen during the pandemic. These patients will not stay with us for weeks/months for treatment and recovery from COVID.”
What role does vaccination play in hospitalization?
“We know that at any time between 60-70% of our admitted patients with COVID are unvaccinated and they are more likely to have classic COVID 19.
So the data remains clear that getting vaccinated significantly reduces the likelihood of hospitalization with COVID-19 and, if they are hospitalized, significantly reduces the severity of their illness and reduces the risk of death from COVID-19.”
Why are occasional COVID cases still important?
“They are important because even if a patient is occasionally COVID positive or is in the middle range where they are not critically ill with COVID, it still puts a significant burden on our healthcare workers and our facility. These patients still need an isolation room. Workers are still required to don personal protective equipment, which means that nurses, nutrition and environmental services, and caregivers take longer to get in and out of those rooms. So we’re still asking the community to really do the things that we know will reduce transmission because even the occasional COVID-positive patients put a strain on the healthcare system and reduce the number of beds available to care for patients who need it. us for other medical conditions.”