Rates of Covid-19 hospitalisation lower in fourth wave - NICD

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The NICD says rates of Covid-19 hospitalisation are lower in the fourth wave.
The NICD says rates of Covid-19 hospitalisation are lower in the fourth wave.
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  • The fourth Covid-19 wave has seen a decreased rate in hospitalisations and deaths.  
  • Of 309 reported Covid-19 deaths, 40 people were fully vaccinated and 269 were unvaccinated. 
  • The current wave is dominated by the Omicron variant. 

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says the fourth wave of Covid-19 is seeing a lower proportion of hospitalisations and deaths.  

On Wednesday, the NICD's public health specialist, Dr Wassila Jassat, said while the fourth wave - which started in Gauteng - saw a rapid increase in case numbers, there was no similar pattern for admissions and deaths.  

"When you look at the picture in the first, second and third waves, there was this protracted period of admissions and cases rising in one province and a few weeks later in another province.

"Over three months, we saw this evolution of the waves in each province. However, in this fourth wave, you can see an increase in all provinces almost simultaneously." 

Jassat added looking at the week-on-week increases, the fourth wave saw a 500% increase in community infections, hospitalisations on the other hand, only saw a 300% increase. 

She said:

Of course, this is still changing as admissions continue to increase in some provinces but what is interesting is that the week-on-week increase in hospital admissions was not as high as what we saw for cases.

She said admissions reached half the rate when Delta was the dominant variant. 

Deaths have also not increased at the same rate as infections, Jassat added. 

The fourth wave is dominated by the Omicron variant. 

"In this wave, in both the public and private sector, we haven't seen a trend in an increase requirement for oxygen in hospital admitted patients." 

She said in the last five weeks, there had also been a decrease in the number of patients treated in the intensive care unit. 

Jassat added while the fourth wave had seen a bigger proportion of admissions in younger people under 40, the average hospital stay was four days. 

She said while the NICD did not have enough data on vaccinations, some patients self-reported their vaccination status on admission. 

"Across South Africa for 5 439 admissions, the proportion of unvaccinated individuals was around 83%. That's higher for younger age groups." 

ALSO READ | Covid-19: KwaZulu-Natal urges younger people to get vaccinated as cases rise in the province

Jassat added they had data on 309 of the 807 deaths reported from 7 November.

"Those we had data on, which is 309, 40 were fully vaccinated and 269 were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. The majority of the deaths … were among people who were unvaccinated." 

She said nine patients, who were vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson, died in hospital almost four months after getting their dose.

For those who received Pfizer, 28 had the first dose, and 35 were vaccinated with two doses. 

"Similarly, four months was the average time from vaccination to admission. Very few people have died within three months of being vaccinated, just five. Seven died within four months of vaccination," Jassat added.

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