Context: Existing hospitalization ratios for COVID-19 typically use case counts in the denominator, which problematically underestimates total infections because asymptomatic and mildly infected persons rarely get tested. As a result, surge models that rely on case counts to forecast hospital demand may be inaccurately influencing policy and decision-maker action.
Objective: Based on SARS-CoV-2 prevalence data derived from a statewide random sample (as opposed to relying on reported case counts), we determine the infection-hospitalization ratio (IHR), defined as the percentage of infected individuals who are hospitalized, for various demographic groups in Indiana. Furthermore, for comparison, we show the extent to which case-based hospitalization ratios, compared with the IHR, overestimate the probability of hospitalization by demographic group.
Design: Secondary analysis of statewide prevalence data from Indiana, COVID-19 hospitalization data extracted from a statewide health information exchange, and all reported COVID-19 cases to the state health department.
Setting: State of Indiana as of April 30, 2020.
Main outcome measures: Demographic-stratified IHRs and case-hospitalization ratios.
Results: The overall IHR was 2.1% and varied more by age than by race or sex. Infection-hospitalization ratio estimates ranged from 0.4% for those younger than 40 years to 9.2% for those older than 60 years. Hospitalization rates based on case counts overestimated the IHR by a factor of 10, but this overestimation differed by demographic groups, especially age.
Conclusions: In this first study of the IHR based on population prevalence, our results can improve forecasting models of hospital demand-especially in preparation for the upcoming winter period when an increase in SARS CoV-2 infections is expected.
Copyright © 2021 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.