On Monday, a new study in the United States revealed that COVID-19 hospitalizations might not be the standard measure of pandemic severity these days. And these figures may not be as significant as we were led to believe, too.
The nationwide study was organized and conducted by researchers from the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, the Tufts Medical Center, and the Harvard Medical School. It was centered on determining the “accuracy of the metric of ‘hospitalization plus a positive SARS-CoV-2 test’ for tracking pandemic severity.”
According to the study’s proponents, what was considered “severe” seemed to have changed with the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. While the term used to refer to test-positive individuals who require supplemental oxygen and extensive medical intervention like intubation, most patients under this category nowadays are either asymptomatic or showing mild manifestations of the virus.
After having a thorough once-over of the records for nearly 50,000 COVID hospital admissions in more than 100 VA hospitals across the United States from January to June of this year, the researchers discovered that almost half of them are mild or asymptomatic cases. In addition, some of these patients were not even showing any signs and symptoms of the virus.
But the thing is that this is not reflected in the media. So even if an individual is displaying mild or asymptomatic manifestations of COVID-19, they are automatically classified under “severe COVID,” especially when the Delta strain got into the picture.
Tufts Medical Center epidemiologist and infectious disease physician Shira Doron shared that “we should refine the definition of hospitalization.” A co-author of the study emphasized that “those patients who are there rather than from COVID don’t belong in the metric.”
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology, Graham Snyder, pointed out that everybody seems to overlook the efficacy of the vaccines. “It’s underreported how well the vaccine makes your life better, how much less sick you are likely to be, and less sick even if hospitalized,” he related.