COVID hospitalizations are on the rise again after more than two consecutive months of high case rates in the Bay Area and California. But doctors treating these patients are increasingly indicating that for most, the disease is less severe than the earlier surge of the deadly virus, which has killed more than a million Americans.
Dr. Errol Ozdalga, clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford, said, “What we are not seeing are patients like we saw in 2021 and 2020 – someone who has no medical problems and needs oxygen. Is.”
The increase has been much more gradual than in other COVID waves, possibly due to wider vaccination and booster coverage, and better therapeutics and treatments that prevent some hospitalizations and shorten others. And hospitalizations are still just shy of the record more than 20,000 COVID patients in California hospitals during the first winter surge in 2020-21, and less than one-third of the 15,000 hospitalized this past winter. Has happened.
Nevertheless, the risk of serious illness and even death among some populations remains a real concern.
Ozdalga and another professor at Stanford’s Medical School, Dr. William Collins, recently took a closer look at Stanford’s hospitalized COVID patients during Omicron’s first surge in December and January, and then more recently, it got better. To understand in a better way how the threat arose. Virus has changed.
“What you really want to know is how dangerous COVID is,” Ozdalga said.
They found that of the nearly 100 patients hospitalized at Stanford in recent weeks who tested positive for COVID, 35% were being treated for serious illness caused by the virus, while other patients were being treated primarily. for non-COVID related issues. Some of the 35% were clinically infirm patients who were recruited very carefully after testing positive.
UCSF hospitals reported a similar proportion among patients hospitalized because of the virus. Till Friday, they had 46 patients who had tested positive for COVID, but 24 of them were admitted for other medical reasons. In earlier COVID waves, in contrast, a much larger proportion of patients were admitted for treatment for severe illness, suggesting that the virus was more dangerous at the time than it is now.
“The people we’re seeing who now have serious illness are largely illiterate, including young people,” said Dr. Peter Chin-hong, a professor of medicine at UCSF specializing in infectious diseases. , and those who are immunized.”
The number of COVID patients in California hospitals has more than quadrupled in the past three months. As of Thursday, 4,432 patients had COVID, up from a low of 949 on April 16.
What affects your chances of being hospitalized for COVID? “Vaccination status is number one,” Chin-hong said. “Age is number two.” And he’s especially concerned about people over 65 who aren’t fully advanced.
From what he’s seeing at UCSF, Chin-hong says that the number of people hospitalized at the moment are “mainly unrelated …
Californians who are not fully vaccinated are 9.4 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19, according to the latest data from the California Department of Public Health.
COVID hospitalizations have fallen below 1,000 for only a few days since reliable tracking began in April 2020. For a few days at the end of June 2021, and for a few days at the end of April 2022, the number of patients in California was less than 1,000.
The number of people testing positive for COVID in California hospitals is a metric the state has used to measure the real-world impacts and severity of the pandemic since the first heat wave in 2020.