Evolving mortality and clinical outcomes of hospitalized subjects during successive COVID-19 waves in Catalonia, Spain

Glob Epidemiol. 2022 Dec:4:100071. doi: 10.1016/j.gloepi.2022.100071. Epub 2022 Jan 7.


Background: The changes in shield strategies, treatments, emergence variants, and healthcare pathways might shift the profile and outcome of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in successive waves of the outbreak.

Methods: We retrospectively analysed the characteristics and in-hospital outcomes of all patients admitted with COVID-19 in eight university hospitals of Catalonia (North-East Spain) between Feb 28, 2020 and Feb 28, 2021. Using a 7-joinpoint regression analysis, we split admissions into four waves. The main hospital outcomes included 30-day mortality and admission to intensive care unit (ICU).

Findings: The analysis included 17,027 subjects admitted during the first wave (6800; 39.9%), summer wave (1807; 10.6%), second wave (3804; 22.3%), and third wave (4616; 27.1%). The highest 30-day mortality rate was reported during the first wave (17%) and decreased afterwards, remaining stable at 13% in the second and third waves (overall 30% reduction); the lowest mortality was reported during the summer wave (8%, 50% reduction). ICU admission became progressively more frequent during successive waves. In Cox regression analysis, the main factors contributing to differences in 30-day mortality were the epidemic wave, followed by gender, age, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and neoplasms.

Interpretation: Although in-hospital COVID-19 mortality remains high, it decreased substantially after the first wave and is highly dependent of patient's characteristics and ICU availability. Highest mortality reductions occurred during a wave characterized by younger individuals, an increasingly frequent scenario as vaccination campaigns progress.

Funding: This work did not receive specific funding.

Keywords: Clinical characteristics; Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19); Hospital mortality; Risk factors; Socioeconomic characteristics.