Now Let’s Pull Apart Covid Hospitalisations

A 13 September preprint article analysing Covid hospitalisations found that only 52% had moderate to severe disease. That is, about half didn’t need supplementary oxygen or meet an oxygen saturation limit during their hospital stay. [PDF on page]

This throws real shade on the validity of one of the major benefits of Covid vaccination for healthy under-50s, who have a very small risk of death from Covid. How reliable and necessary are the other 48% of hospitalisations? Are they hospitalisations with Covid that don’t relate to Covid disease? Are they precautionary for the elderly? What is the real reason and where is the data that reveals it?

Recent UK Public Health Data showed that vaccinated under-50s have strong protection from hospitalisation compared with the unvaccinated. But as I noted, the severity of that hospitalisation is unclear – it’s everything above and including a one-night stay.

The key recommendation is to clarify what hospitalisation means by providing a severity metric to differentiate hospitalisation with/from Covid. Transparency in Covid data: good luck with that. Even The Atlantic has picked up on it.

Anyone familiar with how bureaucrats game their metrics would smell something off. This preprint begins to flesh out that smell. It’s sad that our health bureaucrats’ behaviour over the past 18 months has led us to the point where we suspect every piece of data to be gamed or misrepresented. But here we are, nonetheless.

As an aside, it is remarkable how quickly international Covid data is disseminated. The level of focus, the quality of engagement, and the timeliness of analysis puts our corporate media to shame. It has its downsides, like the too-rapid embrace of some preprint studies. And it relies a little too much on mavens like Alex Berenson. But most of all, this is a real information superhighway that is helping keep bureaucracies accountable. It is what the internet should always have been.

The Research

The researchers reviewed records of SARS-CoV-2 positive hospitalisations in a single Veterans’ Affairs hospital from January 2020. They split the records into pre- and post-vaccination periods.

They then checked how many of those hospitalised had moderate-to-severe Covid. This is defined as “… any oxygen supplementation or any documented SpO2 < 94% recorded in the vital signs domain during a VA inpatient admission at any time between one day before and two weeks after the positive SARS-CoV-2 test.”

In the pre-vaccination period (1 March 2020 – 20 January 2021) 64.0% of hospitalised patients met the moderate-to-severe criteria. Post-vaccination (20 Jan 2021 – 30 June 2021) the proportion was 52%.

The latter result underlies the claim that half of hospitalisations are mild.

The researchers also looked at a higher level of severity, defined as “a clinical definition of respiratory distress (oxygen supplementation > 2L NC or any documented SpO2 < 90%).”

This stricter severity showed similar pattern, with 32.3% / 24.0% of hospital admissions meeting the criteria.

Limitations and Riders

  • single hospital data
  • all Veterans
  • median age 71.1 (mean 68.9, SD 14.0)
  • 60.5% white
  • 94.5% male
  • retrospective documentary research.

Preprint PDF

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