Coronavirus survival rates have improved since March - the science explained

Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 10:54 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 11:55 am
Coronavirus survival rates have improved since March - the science explained (Photo: Shutterstock)

The number of coronavirus patients in hospital wards and intensive care units may have reached the same levels as during the week the UK first went into lockdown, but figures suggest that the NHS has got better at treating the virus.

The proportion of people dying with coronavirus compared to the number of people in hospital with the disease is significantly lower than it was during the first wave of the virus in spring, according to the i.

What do the figures show?

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While the current death rates are causing significant concern that the UK is within a second wave, they are lower both proportionally and in total than they were in late March.

On 21 March, two days before the UK went into lockdown, there were 2,092 people in hospital with coronavirus, and 131 sadly died.

Four days later, there were 2,588 people in hospital and 302 deaths, rising from 6.3 per cent to 11.6 per cent.

By contrast, the latest hospital figures for the whole of the UK shows that on 2 October, while there were 2,481 patients with coronavirus, just 33 people died - a rate of 1.3 per cent.

Why might this be the case?

It’s been suggested that this considerable drop in the mortality rate for people being treated for coronavirus in hospitals is a sign that the health service has developed better methods for dealing with the virus.

This could be down to more preparation, greater understanding of the virus, improved treatments and more protections for the vulnerable.

Speaking to the i, Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said, “I am concerned about what is going to happen in the next few weeks in terms of hospitalisations and deaths, but the reason I am not as concerned as I was in March is because of the speed with which the epidemic is growing at the moment, which is considerably lower than the speed it was in March.

“I would hope that the case mix of those going into hospital are at a lower risk of severe outcomes. This is still a serious infection for many people who are being admitted to hospital.”