As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, I feel compelled to remind you that the headlines aren’t all doom and gloom. In fact, there are occasional bits of good news breaking through this growing second wave of infections.
It’s true that we’re headed back into the danger zone as another winter looms. But reports suggest that we’re also a long way from where we were back in the spring, when all hell first broke loose…
Death rates dropping across the board
NYU Langone—a premier academic medical center—recently wrapped up a study showing that the death rate of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has dropped substantially. And that’s among all patient groups—including older patients and those with underlying conditions, both notoriously high-risk.
This likely suggests that doctors have gained a much better understanding of COVID-19 after nearly nine months of battling it. Which means they also have a better understanding of how to treat it.
Of course, the death rate remains higher than many other infectious diseases—and yes, it’s still more lethal than the flu. And it still has the potential to leave survivors of any age with some pretty ugly long-term complications.
But this latest news is a bright light…
Researchers kept track of the death rates of some 5,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 between March and August. And they found that mortality rates dropped by 18 percent during that time.
In other words, while these patients had more than a 25 percent chance of dying at the beginning of the pandemic, the odds have now dropped to around seven percent.
The researchers considered a lot of potential confounding factors—including the possibility that higher rates of COVID-19 among younger patients later in the pandemic might have skewed their findings. But in the end, this trend held across the board.
And not just in the U.S., either. Researchers in England discovered similar declines in death rates between March and June. And after following more than 20,000 hospitalized patients, results showed that mortality rates dropped by 20 percent during this time frame—once again, among all groups.
This is an incredible improvement. But it’s also not too surprising…
We aren’t out of the woods yet
Don’t forget that this was a “novel” (brand new) virus, which humans had never encountered before 2019. So we knew nothing about what to look for or how to treat it when all of this started. Indeed, we were flying blind.
Fast forward to where we are now, and it’s a different story. We’re almost a whole year into this nightmare. And needless to say, when the entire world’s scientific community is laser focused on one thing… well, we tend to innovate quickly.
Doctors can now recognize a patient with severe COVID-19 sooner than they could in the beginning. They’ve also developed protocols to assist patients who might have blood clots or immune overreactions—both of which are atypical for a respiratory virus.
And let’s not forget about the dedication and sacrifice that so many Americans have demonstrated in following COVID-19 safety measures, like social distancing and mask wearing. Because if you’ve done your civic duty here, rest assured that you have saved lives, too.
These measures aren’t fun for anyone. But they have almost certainly decreased the viral loads that people encounter when they are exposed to someone with COVID-19. And that can absolutely reduce the severity of the disease.
Now… please don’t get me wrong. This does not make the novel coronavirus a benign illness. We’re looking at just over 240,000 deaths (and counting) in the U.S. as I write this—and countless hundreds of thousands, if not millions, who will suffer long-term side effects as a result of infection.
This research was also completed in August—well before this second wave of infections began to swell. So while it’s good news, we still need to brace ourselves for whatever might come next.
In other words, now is not the time to let our guard down. Sure, we can pat ourselves on the back and celebrate some of these advancements… but it’s still vitally important that we double down and stay vigilant, until one way or another, this pandemic comes to a glorious end.
P.S. As the holiday season approaches, we’re all going to feel the pull of our usual traditions. But with the coronavirus pandemic still looming, there are some serious safety considerations to take into account before kicking off any festivities. I talk all about them in the current issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“Safe ways to enjoy the holidays in the age of COVID-19”). Not yet a subscriber? Become one today!
“Two Studies Show Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates.” WebMD, 10/22/2020. (webmd.com/lung/news/20201021/two-studies-show-drop-in-covid-19-death-rates)