COVID-19 hospitalisations rise, but not matter of concern yet: Experts

Only 12 ICU and two HDU admissions so far; general bed admissions are not a true indicator of severity of illness: TAC chairman

Updated - June 28, 2022 09:46 pm IST

Published - June 28, 2022 08:58 pm IST - Bengaluru

Even with a booster dose, UK Health Security Agency data shows lowered vaccine effectiveness against severe disease for BA.5.

Even with a booster dose, UK Health Security Agency data shows lowered vaccine effectiveness against severe disease for BA.5. | Photo Credit: File photo

Hospitalisation owing to COVID-19 is inching up in Karnataka, though fatalities are low. As of Monday (June 27), there were 79 patients admitted in hospitals. This is a nearly 20% jump from the four hospitalisations that were recorded on June 1.

According to data from the State Health Department, of the 79 patients hospitalised, 12 are in ICUs and two have occupied oxygen/ high dependency unit (HDU) beds. The remaining have occupied general beds. While 72 of the 79 are in BBMP areas, all the 79 have been admitted in government hospitals.

Hospitalisations that had remained low despite a rise in new cases since the beginning of this month, started increasing from June 10 when 22 patients required admission. In ten days, this number doubled to 42 on June 20. Now, in a span of one week, hospitalisations have shot up to 79. 

This follows the Indian SARS-CoV -2 Genomics Consortium’s (INSACOG) confirmation about the presence of BA.4 and BA.6 sub-lineages of Omicron in Bengaluru last week. This was nearly a month after sewage surveillance in the city had detected the possible presence of these sub-lineages.

Precautionary in nature

State Health Commissioner Randeep D. said most of the hospitalised are those with comorbidities. “Except for those with comorbidities, the other admissions are precautionary in nature. None of those admitted have required ventilator support so far,” he said.

M.K. Sudarshan, chairman of the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), said the number of hospitalisations vis-a-vis the number of new cases are not of concern as of now.

“Most of the people who are hospitalised are in general wards and these are not a true indicator of the severity of illness. The real measure of severity of disease is reflected in ICU and HDU bed occupancy, which is still low. As Omicron (and its sub-lineages) continues to be the dominant variant, the transmissibility is high but virulence is low,” he said.

“Presently because of the easy availability of beds, some people, especially those with comorbidities and others at high risk including senior citizens, prefer to get admitted to get all the investigations done and for better care,” the TAC chairman said.

C.N. Manjunath, member of the State’s Clinical Experts Committee, said that many who visit hospitals for treatment of other ailments are testing positive when tested before surgeries. “At Jayadeva institute, we are detecting two-three patients positive for COVID when tested before surgery,” he said.

BA.5 sub-lineage

TAC member Giridhar R. Babu, who also heads Lifecourse Epidemiology at Indian Institute of Public Health in Bengaluru, said that BA.5 is resulting in an increased number of infections and hospitalisations in several countries. 

In a series of tweets, he said: “Even with a booster dose, UK Health Security Agency data shows lowered vaccine effectiveness against severe disease for BA.5. For those aged above 50, protection against mortality is greater only with a booster dose. People should come forward to get booster shots.”

“Overall surveillance including genome surveillance should be enhanced to track the new sub-lineages. It is important to prevent crowds, improve ventilation and promote mask use in closed spaces. How likely are any of these to be prioritised?” he said.

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