While most of the mainstream media continues to fret over the coronavirus as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel, two new peer-reviewed studies are telling a different tale.
The studies, shared in a recent article from National Public Radio (NPR), are both showing a precipitous drop in mortality among those hospitalized with COVID-19.
This drop encompasses all groups including older patients with underlying conditions, who are those most at risk to dying from the respiratory disease that has been attributed to the coronavirus. The new studies suggest that doctors are improving in their treatment of the disease.
According to Leora Horwitz, who studies population health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine and is an author on one of the research papers, the death rate has gone down “substantially,” despite what the mainstream news sites are telling the general public.
The study looked at patient in a single health system, and found that mortality has dropped among patients by 18 percentage points since the start of the pandemic. Those studied had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of it, now they have a far smaller 7.6% chance.
The number is still considered to be high risk compared with other diseases, however, including the flu, Horwitz said.
“It still has the potential to be very harmful in terms of long-term consequences for many people,” he added.
Are Better Treatments the Reason for Death Rate Drop?
Also studied were 5,000 patients at the NYU Langone Health system from March through August.
The analysis of these patients found a drop in death rates for all groups studied, including older patients by 18 percentage points on average as well.
The research will appear in the Journal of Hospital Medicine next week.
“I would classify this as a silver lining to what has been quite a hard time for many people,” says Bilal Mateen, a data science fellow in the UK who conducted research of 21,000 hospital patient cases in England. A similar sharp decline in the death rate was found, to the tune of a 20 percentage point unadjusted drop.
“Clearly, there’s been something (that’s) gone on that’s improved the risk of individuals who go into these settings with COVID-19,” he said.
Doctors reportedly are more well versed in recognizing when COVID-19 patients are at risk of blood clots of “cytokine storms,” where the body’s immune system turns on itself.
Doctors have gotten better at quickly recognizing when COVID-19 patients are at risk of experiencing blood clots or debilitating “cytokine storms,” where the body’s immune system turns on itself, the NPR article said.
Treatments have become more effective and standardized, researchers are now saying. Horwitz added that mask-wearing may reduce the initial dose of the virus being received by patients, which has also helped keep mortality rates down.
He and Mateen both believe that masking and social distancing will help keep the mortality rate down heading into the winter months, but the death rate is still expected to reach well over 300,000 people in the U.S. by February.