Covid was the primary cause of death in 21% victims from Jan 13-25: Delhi govt analysis
New Delhi: Between January 13 and 25, only a little over 20% of the 438 Covid-19 classified deaths were due to a coronavirus infection with the rest being primarily caused by other comorbid illness, the death audit committee of the Delhi government has found, according to details accessed by HT.
The 94 deaths spread over 13 days means there were a little over seven fatalities a day caused primarily by Covid-19 on average, corresponding to a period when cases were at its peak. The death audit committee also found that 64% of the deaths in which Covid-19 was the primary cause were in unvaccinated people.
It was not immediately clear whether the rest were in people who were fully or partially vaccinated.
“We can now say that in this wave fewer infected people are dying of Covid-19. Data from the last 13 days shows that 318 or 72.6% of those who lost their lives, died due to other serious illnesses such as cancer or kidney, liver, or heart diseases,” said a senior health department official who asked not to be named.
“Mostly, we are seeing that the Omicron variant is not impacting even mild to moderately comorbid patients, if they are given timely and correct treatment after quick diagnosis. The learning is that people with comorbidities, especially those with serious comorbid conditions should be extra cautious,” this person added.
Prior to the current wave, the last time there were seven deaths a day on average over a week was in the third week of June, at the end of the Delta variant-triggered wave.
The data was presented at the meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Thursday, where it was decided that some of the curbs, like the weekend curfew and the complete ban on dine-in service at restaurants, will be rolled back.
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Of the 94 people who died primarily of Covid-19, 89 were eligible for vaccines. In this, only 32 were vaccinated. The numbers are consistent with previous analyses of deaths, when 66-75% of the deaths were found to be in unvaccinated people. Experts said the most recent number needs to be further studied.
Eight of the 438 Covid-19 classified deaths were due to other causes such as accident and suicide. “In this category, they came to hospitals due to burn injuries, asphyxiation, trauma and so on and they were later found Covid-19 positive when RT-PCR tests were conducted as per the admission protocols,” the official said.
The bulk of the fatalities were classified as incidental Covid-19 positives – that is, they were detected with the virus because they underwent mandatory testing.
The data presented at the meeting also showed that citywide genome surveillance found 79% of 2,503 samples to be of the Omicron variant, while 14% were of the Delta variant and its sub-lineages.
A second official present in the DDMA meeting said experts such as Dr VK Paul, member (health) NITI Aayog and Dr Balram Bhargava, ICMR chief, asked authorities to carry out genome sequencing of 100% hospitalised cases so that it is known which variants are causing how many deaths.
“They were also asked to prepare age-wise details of hospitalised cases so that it is known which age group is more susceptible to falling serious post infection. It will help plan necessary interventions,” the official said requesting anonymity.
Dr Suman Batra, medical superintendent of Deep Chand Bandhu hospital said the number of patients reporting at the casualty section of their facility are mostly patients with mild symptoms who are recommended home isolation by the doctors.
“This time we had a maximum of about 30-40 Covid-19 patients admitted in our hospital on a single day. All of them either have co-morbidities or are elderly. Many of them came with complaints such as high sugar or chest pain, but not because of Covid-19. So, when we do their Covid-19 test after admission, they come out positive. They are admitted not for Covid-19, but for the comorbidities and once that co-morbidity is treated, they recover very fast. Whatever little deaths are happening, it is because of severe comorbidities,” she said.
The number of hospitalisations also decreased from 2,684 on January 18 to 1,887 on Thursday. Patients needing oxygen decreased from 909 to 725 during the same period. However, serious cases have seen only a marginal decline. On January 18, there were 575 patients on ICU beds, who also needed oxygen. On Thursday, this came down marginally to 497. At the same time, 140 patients were on ventilators on January 18 and on Thursday, the number increased to 155.
Of the total 15,420 Covid beds available, 13.9% or 2,137 were occupied as on Wednesday. The maximum occupancy was in Central government hospitals where 722 (21.3%) of its 3,391 Covid-19 beds were occupied. Delhi government hospitals had 246 (5.1%) of its 4,791 beds taken , while private hospitals had 1,169 (16.2%) of their 7,238 Covid beds occupied.
Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, said death audit is important to find out the relationship with death but it is not a causal association. “We need to know from among the 94 deaths labelled as primary cause, how many are actually associated with comorbid conditions and older age groups? Omicron as such is not involving lung or other major organs so the cause of death could be secondary infections,” Dr Kishore said.