Hospitalization rate What is the Covid situation right now at Bonn University Hospital?
Bonn · What’s the situation in Germany right now with the Covid pandemic? One important indicator is what is happening in hospitals. The buzzword here is the hospitalization rate. This is what it means and the current situation in Bonn.
In the nearly two and a half years of the coronavirus pandemic, government and health authorities have relied mainly on infection numbers to describe the current situation. But in the meantime, other statistics, particularly the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients (hospitalization rate), are taking on a greater role in assessing the pandemic situation. So what does the 7-day hospitalization incidence tell us? Where are potential weaknesses with that reading? And what is the current coronavirus situation at Bonn University Hospital?
What is the current situation at Bonn University Hospital?
"In recent weeks, there has been a gradual increase in hospitalizations with Covid-19," says Bonn University Hospital spokeswoman Verena Henn. Around 50 patients are currently undergoing inpatient treatment with or because of Covid-19, about a quarter of them are in intensive care. "The situation in the intensive care units is stable overall, and the proportion of Covid-19 cases is currently manageable," says Henn. Despite the fact that Bonn has a high density of hospital beds and thus covers a larger catchment area, no increase in severe courses of disease is evident right now at the university hospital, Henn continues.
How is the hospitalization rate calculated?
The hospitalization rate, also referred to as hospitalization incidence, is the number of hospitalizations per 100,000 population in a given time period (a 7-day period is currently common).
Why are hospitalization rates accompanied by estimates?
The daily hospitalization rates have been adjusted upward by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) since last fall by adding estimates into the calculation. The reason given by the RKI about introducing this so-called nowcasting measure was that they often only learned about many Covid-19 hospitalizations after a time delay. For that reason, since fall, hospitalization of infected persons has been estimated on the basis of the daily incoming infection numbers, in order to be closer to the actual hospitalization rate.
According to the Federal Ministry of Health, nowcasting is a common forecasting method that epidemiologists at the RKI use regularly. In the pandemic, it was already used for the reproduction value. The institute uses it to estimate the dynamics of new infections. Since the follow-up observations in recent months have shown that the forecasts match the actual numbers recorded later, including the case follow-up reports, this method has proven valuable, the ministry confirms. Despite the imprecise nature of the estimates, the incidence of hospitalization, along with other indicators, provides a solid basis for the pandemic situation.
Nevertheless, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia omits the numbers adjusted upward by estimates in their data of the state-wide hospitalization rate. The 7-day hospitalization incidence issued by the state government is only composed of the Covid-19 admissions numbers actually received in NRW hospitals.
Can the data on hospital numbers of Covid-19 be otherwise biased?
The University Hospital of Bonn estimates that the proportion of patients who are not primarily treated for coronavirus in the hospital, but are still positive, is relatively low. Thus, the hospitalization rate basically reflects the burden of Covid-19 on the hospitals as well.
Why is the 7-day hospitalization rate not tracked by city and county?
The hospitalization rate is a statewide or nationwide statistic. According to the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs (MAGS) of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, this is why the rate is not calculated for individual cities or counties, as such a calculation would distort the rate too much: cities with large hospitals, such as Bonn, which receive many Covid patients, would always have a comparatively high hospitalization rate. Those with hardly any or no patients would show a low rate - even if there were actually many hospitalizations of people from that city.
Orig. text: Dierk Himstedt