Delhi reported 28,867 fresh Covid cases on Thursday, pushing past the peak of 28,395 cases reported on April 20 during the delta-fuelled second wave last year. With a high number of cases being reported despite fewer tests, the positivity rate shot up to 29.2% on Thursday.
Despite the high number of cases, there have been fewer hospitalisations and deaths during the current omicron-driven wave. There are 94,160 active cases in the city, of whom 2,424 persons are admitted to hospitals, as per the daily health bulletin.
In comparison, when active cases were as high during the surge in April-May, over 18,000 persons were in hospitals. At the time, there were over 5,700 patients in ICUs and many more on oxygen beds. The high patient load, most of whom needed oxygen support and were admitted for 10-14 days, led to an oxygen and bed shortage during the peak of the second wave.
The capital also reported 31 deaths on Thursday, fewer than the toll of 40 the previous day. There have been 164 deaths in January so far. A peak of 448 deaths was seen on May 3 last year during the previous surge.
Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Thursday, “The number of hospitalisations as compared to new cases coming daily is currently under control. We are hopeful that this is the peak.”
He added, “There are very few cases among patients in the ICU who are admitted only because of Covid. Most patients are those who are being treated for some other disease. This means patients in hospitals are getting admitted less due to Covid but more due to other diseases; since they also have Covid, they are also included in the count of patients admitted to ICU beds designated for the virus.”
He had said on Wednesday that hospital bed occupancy was less than 15% while cases remained above 20,000, even when the Delhi government scaled up the number of Covid beds to just 15,000. The government had prepared for 37,000 hospital beds.
97 deaths in last 4 days, 70 unvaccinated
Complete vaccination is extremely effective in preventing deaths due to Covid-19, shows an analysis of fatalities reported in Delhi over the last four days.
As many as 70 out of the 97 persons who died of Covid between January 9 and 12 were unvaccinated, according to data provided by Delhi government officials. Of the 27 others, 19 had received just one shot. Only 8 of the 97 persons who died in this period had received both doses, according to officials.
The Indian Express had previously reported that only 11 of the 46 persons who died between January 5 and 9 were vaccinated.
A disproportionate number of deaths have been reported in the unvaccinated even though doctors from across the city have said in almost all ICU admissions and deaths, the finding of Covid-19 was incidental. This means most patients reached the hospitals with other severe illnesses like cancer and liver failure but were found to have the infection when tested before routine procedures.
“According to the audit of the death committee, the highest number of deaths due to Covid is of those patients who were admitted due to a co-morbidity or any other disease,” said Jain in an online briefing on Thursday.
There have been 164 Covid-19 deaths in January, as per official data. In comparison, there were only nine deaths reported in December, seven in November, four in October, and five in September. “Vaccination is not really meant to protect against infection, but severe disease and deaths. Even though a high number of cases is being reported, hospitalisations and deaths are fewer during the current wave — meaning vaccines are effective,” said Dr Ekta Gupta, professor of virology at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences.
The data from Delhi follows the global trend — there has been an increasing gap in mortality between those who are vaccinated and those who are unvaccinated in the United States. A preprint study from a Michigan hospital shows that 7.69% of those who were fully vaccinated and boosted (three doses) died as compared to 12.06% of the unvaccinated. The difference becomes stark when age is factored in — 6.52% of the vaccinated and boosted persons over the age of 65 years died in comparison to 20.17% of the unvaccinated.
Delhi’s data shows that of the 97 people who died between January 9 and 12, 37 were between 41 and 60 years of age; 27 were between 61 and 80 years; eight were above the age of 80. Of the remaining 25, 7 were minors and 18 were between 19 and 40 years of age.
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