Expert: Alpha variant may have caused number of coronavirus deaths to double

'British variant causes illness 30-40% worse than the original virus,' says Health Ministry's Prof. Yaron Niv.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Coronavirus ward (illustrative)
Coronavirus ward (illustrative)
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

One-fifth (21%) the coronavirus patients hospitalized in the "third wave" of the pandemic died before he could be released home, Israel's Health Ministry said, according to Israel Hayom.

This number is significantly higher than the number of deaths which occurred during the first and second waves, when one out of every eight (12.6%) of hospitalized coronavirus patients did not make it.

During the "third wave," when the British (alpha) variant was the dominant strain in Israel, one out of every four (25%) of hospitalized patients died within one month of diagnosis, compared to 13.3% in the first and second waves.

During the third wave, Israel's hospitals warned that they were on the verge of collapse, with approximately 1,100 seriously ill patients. The hospitals also warned of excess mortality.

The Health Ministry estimates that the rise in deaths was caused by the British variant, which is believed to be more aggressive than the original virus, as well as by the decision only to hospitalize those whose condition was very serious.

The statistics were gathered and analyzed by Professor Yaron Niv, Deputy Director General of Quality and Safety in the Health Ministry, as part of a committee formed to ensure quality and safety of the treatment for coronavirus patients. The statistics show that the number of deaths during the third wave doubled, as the number of intubated patients nearly doubled.

"Out of all the confirmed infections, it was actually in the first wave that we had the highest percentage of deaths, and that continued to drop until the third wave," Prof. Niv said. "But out of all those hospitalized in the third wave, there were twice as many people who died than there were in the first and second waves."

"The reasons why the mortality is greater could be that over 90% of those infected in the third wave had the British variant, which causes an illness 30-40% worse than the original virus, but there could also be other reasons.

"During the first wave, we hospitalized every confirmed patient. During the second wave, only those who were symptomatic were hospitalized, and during the third wave we off the bat hospitalized [only] those who were seriously ill, because we learned to manage."

"We saw that the average hospitalization length became shorter between the waves, and that's because the treatment provided was better in the third wave than in the first and second waves. We saw a change in the medication used to treat [patients] - in the third wave, we used more steroids, because we saw it worked, and less Remdesivir. This proves we're always learning, and there is cooperative learning between the hospitals."