Two new peer-reviewed studies show a sharp drop in death rates among people hospitalized because of COVID-19. This drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and people with underlying health conditions. This suggests that hospital teams are getting better at helping patients survive their illness. The first study found that the death rate dropped among hospitalized patients by 18% since the pandemic began. Patients in one study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic. Now, patients have a 7.6% chance. A similar study in England also shows a drop in the death rate from COVID-19 across ages and racial groups. The COVID-19 death rate is still higher than many infectious diseases, including the flu. People who are hospitalized now tend to be much younger, have fewer other diseases, and are less frail than people who were hospitalized early in the pandemic. Doctors have also gotten better at quickly recognizing when COVID-19 patients are at risk of blood clots or debilitating “cytokine storms,” where the body’s immune system attacks itself. Another factor is that mask-wearing and social distancing may be helping to reduce the initial dose of virus a person receives. This lessens the overall severity of illness for many patients.


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