Tamil Nadu

Majority of deaths occurred among those with co-morbidities

The majority of persons who died of COVID-19 since January this year in Tamil Nadu had co-morbidities and were aged above 50.

In a letter to the Collectors and the Commissioner of the Greater Chennai Corporation, Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said a deeper analysis of the fatalities since January 2022 — despite being 10 times lesser than the second wave — revealed that of the total deaths, 97% were persons with co-morbidities and 93% were aged above 50. “Among them, those who were not vaccinated accounted for 60% and those who had taken only one dose an additional 8%,” he said.

The fully vaccinated were mainly those who had other co-morbidities. A preliminary analysis found the co-morbid condition as the immediate or underlying cause of death and COVID-19 was mostly an incidental finding. In a few cases, the persons had ignored the symptoms and come very late for hospital admission, he remarked.

While appreciating the efforts of teams to bring down the number of cases substantially, he sounded a word of caution and requested them to sensitise people in the districts to the need for continuing public health practices that have helped to control the spread of the contagion. “What is worrisome is that whenever there is a reduction in the number of cases, there is a drastic fall in the adherence to COVID-19-appropriate behaviour,” he said.

Focus on vaccination

On the need to keep the focus on vaccination, he said there were persons aged 18-44 and above 60 who were yet to take the first dose. They accounted for about 42 lakh. The Health Department covered 81% of an estimated 33.46 lakh children aged 15-18 with the first dose and 26% with the second dose. “We also need to follow up on booster doses for the elderly with co-morbidities, healthcare and frontline workers,” he said.

He said there was a need to make people realise that the high levels of vaccination was a major contributor to a lesser number of cases and lesser severity in the current wave of infections. As on February 12, hospital admissions accounted for 6.1% of the total 56,002 active cases. Bed occupancy was 2.6% of about 1.33 lakh beds allocated for COVID-19 patients, while 3% of the oxygen beds were occupied (1,587 of 45,478 beds). Intensive Care Unit admissions stood at 5% — 545 of the 1,086 beds.

He said hospital admissions were substantially less during this wave, mainly owing to the level of vaccination, adherence to COVID-19-appropriate behaviour and the nature of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, which as per the data from the latest whole genomic sequencing of samples accounted for 97% of the cases, while the Delta variant was observed in 3% of the samples.

He urged the officials to stay cautious to prevent resurgences of cases.

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Printable version | Feb 13, 2022 7:25:10 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/majority-of-deaths-occurred-among-those-with-co-morbidities/article38420870.ece