In April and May 2021, considered the city’s worst period in the second wave, deaths without underlying comorbidities accounted for 41% and 42% respectively of all Covid fatalities. It was concerning since the proportion of healthy individuals succumbing to the infection had seldom crossed 25-30% since the outbreak. As deaths of those without comorbidities rose, comorbidity-related deaths dropped to 58% in April and May.
Civic data now shows that the trend has reversed with comorbidity-related deaths once again accounting for 75-80% fatalities. Deaths among healthy individuals dropped to 30% in June and 35% in July. In August so far, 27% of deaths have been in individuals with no known ailments, while 73% has been in those with comorbidities, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, hypothyroidism.
Dr Avinash Supe, who heads the city’s Covid death audit committee, said majority of deaths recorded now are among senior citizens with underlying ailments who have been hospitalised with Covid for weeks. The city is clocking an average of 30-35 weekly Covid deaths, of which almost 65% is of those above 60 years. With the city’s high diabetes and hypertension burden, it is unlikely that Covid deaths would come to naught, he said.
A senior civic intensivist said the city had faced a brief crisis of beds in April when more than 9,000 cases were being detected every day. “It is possible that there could have been a delay in seeking care by young healthy individuals, or they may have struggled to find a bed on time, or perhaps the severity of the disease itself could have caused more deaths,” said the doctor.
He believes the Delta variant caused a rapid progression of the disease in young people. “We had young and healthy patients developing acute respiratory distress syndrome in a span of 3-4 days. So even with a slight delay in reaching a hospital, those cases would have had a bad outcome,” the doctor added.
At SevenHills Hospital in Andheri, which is recording 3-5 deaths daily, the trend is evident. Dean Dr Balakrishna Adsul said they had recorded many deaths in the younger age group in May, but now mortalities are once again concentrated in the elderly.
“In the rare deaths that we see in young patients now, delay is the biggest reason. They don’t get tested till day 9 or 10 of the onset of symptoms. Some waste a day or two doing a HRCT scan before going for a RT-PCR test,” he said. SevenHills, he said, mainly gets patients who have exhausted their financial means after spending several days in private hospitals, he said.