COVID-19 patients much sicker and more likely to die than flu patients

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Tejasvi Hora is a PhD candidate in Geography at the University of Waterloo researching the relationship between groundwater use and agriculture production in low-income regions. He is also currently working as a data analyst at GEMINI–a health data analytics lab at Unity Health Toronto–to improve patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published: February 11, 2021


Tejasvi Hora, PhD Candidate

Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo

Data Analyst, GEMINI, Unity Health Toronto What is the background for this study?

Response: Death rates and resource use for COVID-19 hospitalization vary significantly worldwide, however, the characteristics and outcomes of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Canada have not been described in detail. Further, there is considerable uncertainty about how COVID-19 compares with influenza. In some circles, COVID-19 has been dismissed as being not more severe than “the flu”. ­We used data extracted from electronic health records of 7 hospitals in Ontario, Canada to describe characteristics and outcomes of hospitalization for COVID-19 and influenza. What are the main findings?

Response: We compared 1027 hospital admission for COVID-19 with 783 admissions for influenza. After adjusting for patient factors like age, sex, and comorbidity, we found that patients with COVID-19 have a 3.5 times higher risk of death, 1.5 times longer hospital length-of-stay and 1.5 times greater ICU use than influenza hospitalizations. We also found that adults younger than 50 years old accounted for 1 in 5 COVID-19 hospitalizations and nearly 1 in 3 of these people required ICU care, highlighting that COVID-19 can cause serious illness even among younger adults. Finally, we found that simple risk models can predict in-hospital COVID-19 mortality with ~80% accuracy. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Hospitalization for COVID-19 are significantly more severe than influenza hospitalization in Canada. COVID-19 is definitely not “just like flu”.. Simple risk scores can inform clinical decision-making and resource allocation of COVID-19 hospitalizations. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: There is a need to develop region-specific COVID-19 risk predication models that can aid current management efforts. Furthermore, there is a need for a more detailed examination of how socio-economic factors influence COVID-19 spread and hospitalizations in urban centers.

Any disclosures? I have nothing to disclose.