We keep hearing how hospitals are being overrun with COVID patients because of those dastardly unvaccinated. This has certainly made the Delta variant look highly dangerous, helped keep people in a state of panic, and ginned up support for draconian vaccine mandates. But is it as bad as we’re being told?
Two studies suggest that all the talk of mass hospitalization from the COVID outbreak is a huge exaggeration. Researchers found that a substantial number of those admitted to hospitals – adults and children – either have minor symptoms or were checked in for something else but happened to test positive for COVID after being admitted.
Of course, that’s not the message the public is getting. Instead, we are being treated daily to headlines such as:
“Child Covid-19 hospitalizations soar, filling pediatric wings, data show”
“COVID-19 Hospitals: overrun with COVID patients”
“As Idaho hospitals ration care, doctors fear a COVID peak may still be weeks away”
When the death rate from COVID plunged, the media started focusing on the number of people hospitalized as the “better” indicator of how serious the current COVID outbreak is.
But that measure is grossly inflated because hospitals test every patient and are required to report any positive result, even if the patient has no symptoms. The result, as a surprisingly honest article in the Atlantic points out, is that “the overall tallies of COVID hospitalizations, made available on various state and federal dashboards and widely reported on by the media, do not differentiate based on severity of illness.”
The article points to new a new study by researchers the VA Boston Healthcare System and Tufts University, which tried to understand the severity of these hospital visits by looking at electronic records data from Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country. That way they could see which COVID patients needed supplemental oxygen or whose blood oxygen level went below 94%, which are indicators of a severe COVID case.
They found that last year, as COVID was emerging and before there were any vaccines, nearly two-thirds of those who tested positive in hospitals for COVID had severe symptoms. But this year, only about half did. The rest either had been admitted for other reasons or had a mild case of the disease.
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