COVID-19 Associated With Longer Hospital Stays, Higher Risk of Death Than Seasonal Influenza

COVID-19 is associated with longer stays in the intensive care unit, which costs nearly twice as much to treat.

A new study found that COVID-19 carries a significantly higher risk of death and longer hospital stays than seasonal influenza among adults 18 years of age and older. The study, presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, noted that those hospitalized with COVID-19 have a higher risk of complications and death in this patient population, despite being younger and having fewer chronic illnesses.

The findings also indicate that COVID-19 is associated with longer stays in the intensive care unit (ICU), which costs nearly twice as much to treat.

The research team examined medical records of 187 patients admitted to the hospital with seasonal influenza infection between 2017 and 2019, to compare them with 184 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic between March and May 2020, who required oxygen therapy at admission. Patients were enrolled consecutively until the required sample size was reached in both cohorts.

The study aimed to compare clinical characteristics, health care resource use outcomes, hospital costs, and death. The results uncovered that influenza patients tend to have more existing chronic illnesses and problems performing activities of daily living than COVID-19 patients, but were less likely to have overweight or obesity, according to the study.

The analysis found that COVID-19 was associated with a higher risk of infection severity and admission to the ICU. Further, COVID-19 patients were found to be more likely to experience certain complications, such as acute kidney injury, blood clots, and moderate to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome. Meanwhile, patients with influenza were more likely to suffer from bacterial pneumonia.

In all, 29 of 187 patients with COVID-19 and 10 of 187 patients with influenza died of any cause within 30 days of hospitalization, and the death rate after 90 days was even higher. The study authors also note that there were no differences in mortality trends between the 3 seasonal influenza periods studied.

In examining these factors, the researchers found that patients with COVID-19 were more than 3 times as likely to die within 30 and 90 days of being admitted to the hospital than influenza patients.

Additionally, the pharmacy treatment and testing costs were also significantly higher in the COVID-19 group.

“Our findings suggest COVID-19 is far more lethal than influenza,” said lead author Inmaculada Lopez Montesinos, MD, from the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain, in a press release. “Despite influenza patients being older and having more comorbid illnesses, COVID-19 patients had consistently worse health outcomes and were considerably more expensive to treat. Even for those people who are lucky enough to survive COVID-19 and make it out of the hospital, they will be forever scarred by the consequences. It is vital that people get fully vaccinated and boosted against both viruses.”

There were a few limitations in the study, such as the lack of no genotyping studies and being conducted in a 1 tertiary-care hospital in Spain. In addition, the absence of vaccinated patients with COVID-19 during the study duration may not reflect the current standings of inpatients with COVID-19.

REFERENCE

Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were three times as likely to die than those with seasonal influenza. EurekAlert! April 21, 2022. Accessed April 22, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/950223