Why are death rates from COVID-19 dramatically lower in recent months? A new study from New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine pinpoints several possible factors at play.
Researchers looked at 5,263 hospitalized COVID-19 patients at NYU Langone Health hospitals in New York and found that death rates averaged 27% in March and just 3% in August. What changed? Everything:
- Recent patients are younger (averaging age 47 versus 63).
- Patients arrive at the hospital in better shape, with less-severe symptoms.
- Medical staff are now well-versed in best practices, such as resting patients on their stomachs and avoiding ventilators for as long as possible.
- Physicians have a small arsenal of pharmaceutical treatments.
- Hospitals are less crowded.
Overall, this indicates that hospital treatment regimes are working well, though the researchers emphasize that many of the survivors may face long-term health difficulties.
An earlier, pre-print version of the study is available here, and it appears in The Journal of Hospital Medicine this month. It is limited to one hospital system, though the authors note that recent death rates in Southern and Western hospitals have also been similarly lower.