‘35 of 46 who died from Jan 5-9 were not jabbed’
- In all, 34 of the 46 the deaths were among people who had comorbid conditions known to raise the risk of severe Covid.
Delhi government analysis of deaths among Covid-19 patients in the city between January 5 and 9 has shown that 35 out of 46, or 76%, of the fatalities were in unvaccinated people, and 21, or almost half, were admitted for other reasons before they were detected as infected with coronavirus.
The data reinforces trends seen worldwide and in other Indian cities – being vaccinated significantly reduces the risk of fatality, and many of the infections in hospitalised people are incidental discoveries, suggesting they already needed medical attention for complications not necessarily linked to Covid-19.
“It will be wrong to say that this time deaths are happening purely because of Covid-19. If we say, deaths are because of Omicron, it will be incorrect. It is mostly because of other co-morbidities,” said BL Sherwal, medical director at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, adding that there is a marked reduction in the number of serious people being hospitalised.
A detailed classification of cause of death was not immediately available of all deaths that occurred in this period, but some analysed by HT showed a pattern that in many of the deaths, a Covid-19 infection was seemingly incidental.
One such case was the death of a 74-year-old man at Lok Nayak Hospital due to a heart attack – this person was detected as Covid-positive only after his demise. A second death at the same facility was that of a 77-year-old cancer patient. Another fatality was at Majidia Hospital, where the 59-year-old patient had uncontrolled diabetes and chest infection while a fourth death, at National Heart Institute, was of an 80-year-old man who was asymptomatic but had severe hypertension, according to some of the death records seen by HT.
In all, 34 of the 46 the deaths were among people who had comorbid conditions known to raise the risk of severe Covid-19, and 23 – or 50% -- of all deaths were recorded within a day of the patients being admitted, suggesting their condition was already critical when they got medical attention.
To be sure, it is not clear if Covid further complicated the existing comorbidities.
The January 5-9 hospitalisation and death analysis was presented at the Delhi Disaster Management Authority’s (DDMA)meeting on Monday, when the agency, headed by the lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, reviewed the Covid-19 outbreak in the Capital and announced new curbs on dining-in at restaurants.
An official aware of the discussions at the meeting said experts agreed on the need to further study the rise in death numbers, even though they appear to be lower in comparison to past waves.
The Delhi government has formed a Covid death analysis committee to review each death that takes place during the current wave.
The Capital recorded 17 fatalities classified as Covid-19 deaths on Sunday, the highest since June 16. There were 17 deaths on Monday as well.
The data also showed that while the number of cases requiring oxygen support jumped from 140 to 440 in the five-day period, the proportion of such patients remained under 0.8% of active cases in this period.
Of the 46 deaths, 25 were in people above the age of 60 years, with those between the age of 41 and 60 suffering the next-highest numbers of fatalities at 14.
“Some of the patients who recently died were those who were brought to hospitals when their SpO2 fell below 80 and was in the 70-80 range. Their lungs were badly infected even before they were brought to the hospitals. People should take the infection seriously and avoid self-medication or delay in seeking qualified professional medical treatment,” a second official, who asked not to be named, said.
The severity trends seen in Delhi till now are consistent with the outcomes in other countries hit by Omicron-induced waves. The commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation last week said that of the 1,900 people requiring oxygen support in Mumbai’s hospitals, 96% were unvaccinated.
Researchers in South Africa, the country first hit by the Omicron variant, said they found a likely correlation between a past infection and vaccination and reduced risk of severe disease or death when people were infected by this configuration of the virus.
The Omicron variant of the coronavirus, designated as being of concern in late November, is the most transmissible and resistant yet.