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New Study Shatters Narrative Surrounding COVID Hospitalizations

AP Photo/David Goldman, File

A new study — still pending peer review — picked up by The Atlantic, of all places, puts the recent fearmongering over the number of hospitalized Americans with the Wuhan coronavirus in perspective. Most notably, the study conducted by a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School, Tufts Medical Center, and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, found that many of those "hospitalized with COVID" are not the dire situations hyped by liberal media and leading Democrats.

The main narrative-shattering takeaway researchers arrived at: "Roughly half of all the hospitalized patients showing up on COVID-data dashboards in 2021 may have been admitted for another reason entirely, or had only a mild presentation of disease."

Rather than the overwhelming horror stories of normally healthy individuals being admitted with COVID who are soon intubated and put on a ventilator before their body finally succumbs to the virus, there are a lot of people — almost half, in fact — who happen to be in hospitals *with* COVID, but not necessarily *due to* COVID or at risk of dying from the virus. Yes, those tragic situations do still happen, but it's happening less frequently than many seem to want Americans to think.

Instead of each "COVID hospitalization" reported being a life-and-death situation that mandates a drastic reaction, the numbers can come from a number of scenarios. Perhaps someone is getting treatment for cancer and, when admitted, they test positive for COVID but remain asymptomatic, for example. Also included are psychiatric admissions entirely unrelated to COVID. 

Here's how researchers reached their conclusion after analyzing electronic hospital records for roughly 50,000 COVID hospital admissions at more than 100 VA hospitals nationwide:

They checked to see whether each patient required supplemental oxygen or had a blood oxygen level below 94 percent. (The latter criterion is based on the National Institutes of Health definition of “severe COVID.”) If either of these conditions was met, the authors classified that patient as having moderate to severe disease; otherwise, the case was considered mild or asymptomatic.

And for patients who were vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus, the percentage of COVID hospitalizations for those with mild or asymptomatic cases rose to 57 percent. But, another panic-busting finding from the study: "unvaccinated patients have also been showing up with less severe symptoms, on average, than earlier in the pandemic: The study found that 45 percent of their cases were mild or asymptomatic since January 21." That positive development, according to one of the study's co-authors, is due to patients being younger and more likely to have had COVID previously.  

The study does have its limitations, such as the VA system skewing toward adult male patients and the VA's systemwide practice of COVID-testing all patients — something that's not universal across other healthcare systems. But as even The Atlantic notes, "the study also demonstrates that hospitalization rates for COVID, as cited by journalists and policy makers, can be misleading, if not considered carefully."

So while the liberal echo chambers of cable news, Twitter, and the political Left tell us that hospitalizations are spiking (usually, they'll claim, due to Republican governors who prefer to let their citizens choose for themselves how they wish to protect themselves and their families) and as a result we must hand over all control and autonomy to big "G" government, that's not necessarily the case if these researchers' findings are validated by peer review and similar studies in the future.

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