ICU patients who are being treated for coronavirus are dying less often than they were when compared to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the details?
New research published in medical journal Anaesthesia reports that a significant decrease in COVID-19 mortality has occurred since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Researchers add that the decrease is at least partially due to better hospital care.
The study is based on analysis of 24 studies that involved more than 10,000 patients across Asia, Europe, and North America.
The research, led by Professor Tim Cook of England's Royal United Hospitals Bath, revealed that the overall mortality rate of coronavirus ICU patients fell from approximately 60 percent since the end of March to 42 percent by the end of May.
Cook is also a consultant in anesthesia and intensive care medicine at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust.
Cook and other study authors said that "rapid learning that has taken place on a global scale due to the prompt publication of clinical reports early in the pandemic" has impacted the disease's mortality rate for the better.
"It may also be that ICU admission criteria have changed over time, for example, with greater pressure on ICUs early in the pandemic surge," authors wrote.
The study added, "There were no significant effects of geographical location, but reported ICU mortality fell over time. Optimistically, as the pandemic progresses, we may be coping better with COVID-19."
The study also notes that its key findings regarding COVID-19 and ICU stints are likely to indicate that lengthy ICU stays take time to be reflected in the data. The research points out that 20 percent of U.K. ICU admissions have lasted more than 28 days, while 9 percent have gone beyond 42 days.
"The important message, however, is that as the pandemic has progressed and all these factors combine, survival of patients admitted to ICU with COVID-19 has significantly improved," the study added.
Cook, in a statement of his own, said, "The important message is that as the pandemic has progressed and various factors combine, survival of patients admitted to ICU has significantly improved." He also cautioned, however, that while mortality rates in ICU patients seem to be decreasing, the disease is still more dangerous and damaging when compared to other viruses that cause pneumonias.
"The in-ICU mortality from COVID-19, at around 40 per cent, remains almost twice that seen in ICU admissions with other viral pneumonias, at 22%," the report added.
Dr. Eric Cioe Pena, director of global health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York, issued a statement on the research, warning people against complacency.
In a statement to Health Day, Pena said, "Any successful treatment, when not coupled with good public health measures to keep the new case rate below the limit of existing health care resources, will erase any gains made over the last few months by simply overwhelming the ICUs that have just become better at treating COVID-19."
Pena added that the study, on the whole, "rightly concludes something that we expect: As we learned more about this virus and its effect on the critically ill, we became better at treating it and its complications."