COVID-19 Hospitalization Tied to Higher Death Rate Than the Flu

Findings seen among those hospitalized in the VA health system during the 2022-2023 flu season

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TUESDAY, April 11, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Being hospitalized for COVID-19 is associated with an increased risk for death compared with hospitalization for seasonal influenza, according to a research letter published online April 6 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Yan Xie, Ph.D., from the VA Saint Louis Health Care System, and colleagues used the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs electronic health databases (Oct. 1, 2022, to Jan. 31, 2023) to identify individuals with at least one hospital admission record from two days before to 10 days after a positive test result for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or influenza and an admission diagnosis for COVID-19 or seasonal influenza, with follow-up through March 2, 2023.

The researchers identified 8,996 hospitalizations (538 deaths within 30 days) for COVID-19 and 2,403 hospitalizations (76 deaths) for seasonal influenza. At 30 days, the death rate was 5.97 percent for COVID-19 and 3.75 percent for influenza, yielding an excess death rate of 2.23 percent. Hospitalization for COVID-19 was associated with a higher risk for death than for influenza (hazard ratio, 1.61), although the risk for death decreased with the number of COVID-19 vaccinations.

"This finding should be interpreted in the context of a two to three times greater number of people being hospitalized for COVID-19 versus influenza in the U.S. in this period," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text

Lori Solomon

Lori Solomon

Medically reviewed by Mark Arredondo, M.D.

Published on April 11, 2023

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