Current Covid-19 hospital patients are younger and overweight
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Current Covid-19 hospital patients are younger and overweight

Credit: Belga

Patients currently hospitalised due to Covid-19 are younger than during the first two waves of the epidemic, and more likely to be overweight.

The information comes from the Interfederal spokesman for the fight against the coronavirus, Yves Van Laethem, who announced it at a press briefing by the Sciensano Public Health Institute and the Crisis Centre.

Since the start of the third wave on 15 February, half of the Covid-19 patients are under 66 years old.

“That’s seven years younger than in the second wave, which is very significant,” said Van Laethem, who sees this as a result of the campaign to vaccinate the elderly.

People in their forties and fifties currently represent 31% of hospital admissions. Only 2% of patients currently admitted to hospital come from a nursing home or a rest and care home. This figure was 20% in the second wave.

Additionally, coronavirus patients are less likely to have underlying pathologies.

In the second wave, 50 to 60% of patients had at least two chronic conditions. In the third wave, this increased from 30 to 50%.

Obesity, however, is more marked.

“We see an increase in this co-morbidity of 10 to 20% over the course of the pandemic, especially in people in their twenties and thirties,” said Van Laethem.

“The majority of the rare cases in this age group that are hospitalised are significantly overweight.”

In the third wave, more patients were transferred to intensive care.

“One in four patients were sent to intensive care, compared to one in five or even one in six in the first wave,” the infectious disease specialist explained. “This is probably related to the fact that there is availability.”

The median age has also fallen in intensive care units: half of the patients treated in intensive care are now under 64, compared with under 68 in the second wave.

The survival rate of inpatients has increased, thanks to better management. This better prognosis is also linked to the fact that patients are younger and have a better life expectancy at the time of admission.

“One in ten patients still loses their battle with Covid. This is a clear improvement on Christmas 2020, when two out of ten patients died, but it is still high,” said Van Laethem.

In intensive care units, one third of patients still die from the coronavirus. This prognosis has not changed.

The data from the study, which is still incomplete, covers 7 662 patients, 487 of whom were treated in intensive care units.

The Brussels Times