The proportion of Covid-19 patients in hospital who are dying is falling in England, research suggests.
The University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine studied deaths in hospital in England and found that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is reducing by 2.4% every day – halving every 29 days.
The number of deaths is also reducing by 4.3% per day – halving every 16 days.
On April 2, at the height of the epidemic, there were 644 deaths in 10,737 people in hospital with Covid – giving a 6% death rate, the researchers said.
But by June 15, there were 50 deaths and 3,270 people in hospital – giving a death rate of 1.5%.
The authors suggested several reasons for the “steep and continual decline in the death rate in hospital of patients”.
One could be that patients with Covid-19 in late March and early April included a significant proportion of patients who caught the infection in hospital, they said.
“These patients, because they were in hospital, were more likely to be sicker and more vulnerable than patients who acquired infection in the community and so more likely to die from Covid-19.”
But as this changed, and patients with community-acquired infections became a greater proportion of patients in hospital, the death rate could fall, the researchers suggested.
Other reasons may be that medics have become more skilled at treating patients with Covid-19, patients over time have become younger with fewer underlying health conditions, or people are now suffering less severe disease.
“The reasons for the declining death rate in hospitals may be a combination of one or all of these factors or due to some other reason we have not considered,” the researchers said.
“In either case, further research is warranted to understand why the hospital death rate has declined so markedly over the past eight weeks.”