Image of Sameer S. Kadri, M.D., MS

Surging COVID-19 cases are linked to increased patient mortality, according to new study results from the federal government and Harvard University. Supporting overwhelmed hospitals at these times will save many lives, the researchers say.

Investigators looked at data on adult COVID-19 patients admitted from March to August 2020 and who were discharged by October 2020 in 558 U.S. hospitals. The aim was to determine any link between the hospitals’ COVID-19 caseload weighted by severity and mortality risk.

Approximately 1 in every 4 COVID-19 deaths was potentially attributable to surges in hospital caseload, scientist Sameer S. Kadri, M.D., MS, reported. This continued to occur even in the later pandemic months — despite greater use of corticosteroids and more selective intubation as better treatments became available.

The surges potentially eroded any benefits gained from the new treatments emerging at the time, Kadri and colleagues wrote. 

“Many COVID-19 deaths may be preventable through prudent public health and health care organizational interventions that minimize the effect of surges,” they concluded.

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

COVID-19 cases rise

In related news, COVID-19 cases are up around 11% over last week as the Delta coronavirus variant rapidly spreads across the United States. Most cases are occurring among people who have not yet been vaccinated, federal health officials say. Counties with vaccination rates of less than 40% account for 93% of COVID-19 cases, Reuters reported.