New research from Italy published in Pathogens and Global Health found the mortality rate of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 declined from 24 percent in March to just 2 percent in May at a hospital in Milan. In even more positive news, there wasn't a significant change in the patients' age.
One reason is likely that doctors have improved at treating the novel and confounding disease over time. The study mentions that treatments specifically targeting issues associated with COVID-19 like hyper-inflammation and microvascular thrombosis may have played a big role. Another explanation is that Italy's lockdown measures were effective at curbing the spread of the virus, which subsequently helped lessen the strain on the health-care system.
The study also proposes that co-infections of other respiratory viruses like the flu and air pollution have both decreased in the timeframe, leading to fewer severe cases. Finally, there's a small chance that a viral mutation is a factor, although scientists have largely dismissed the notion that the virus has been or will be significantly altered enough to result in a change in lethality for better or worse anytime soon.
As always, it's important to remember this is just one study and not a definitive statement, but it's worth following especially as the United States continues to grapple with the pandemic. Read the full study here. Tim O'Donnell