Coronavirus patient in hospital
Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment take care of a patient suffering from the coronavirus at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi, India, May 28, 2020.Courtesy: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Coronavirus has become one of the most dreaded diseases on the planet. In Bengaluru, over 25,000 people have caught the virus, testing positive. However, ventilator support for patients suffering from the disease has become an issue to worry about. Around 97% of the COVID-19 patients on ventilator support at Victoria Hospital associated with Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute have passed away. 

The BMCRI confirmed that 89 of 92 patients have died to COVID-19 on ventilator support on Wednesday. This comes as a huge cause of concern for the city already struggling against the virus. 

Global studies on ventilator and ICU-related deaths among Covid patients

So far research has not painted an optimistic picture on COVID deaths under critical care, the world over. Earlier in April, this year studies from New York showed that 9 out of 10 patients on ventilators due to COVID-19 didn't survive. 

Ventilators have been seen as essential life support for victims of the disease when oxygen levels are low. Further studies from the UK have also shown the adverse outcomes and longer recovery periods for those on ventilators and advanced respiratory support. In the report by Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre dated 10th July 2020, it was found in UK that 4010 patients of the 10,421 admitted in critical care died as an outcome i.e. 38.5%, this was particularly the case for patients above 60 years of age. Advanced respiratory support seemed to report higher outcomes of death compared to basic support, the 'ICNARC report on COVID-19 in critical care', showed. 

Non-invasive ventilation uses face masks, nasal masks or mouthpieces[Stephane Mahe/Reuters]

However, recently a study that looked at data from Asia, Europe and North America had found that the overall mortality rate had come down to 42% at the end of May as compared to 60% in March, of deaths in ICUs. Still, these are global estimates based on specific datasets. Studies further said that these percentages could further reduce in the coming months. However, while that may hold true for other parts of the world for India, the situation could still be dicey. 

Ventilator-related deaths in Bengaluru

While data specific for Bengaluru alone and centred on critical care during the COVID-19 pandemic are hard to come by, media reports have emerged about the situation of COVID-19 deaths in the city. 

BMCRI confirmed on Wednesday to TOI that 89 of its 92 COVID-19 patients on ventilators had succumbed at the Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru. The news created a cause of concern as ventilators have come in great demand in the country and the government has braced itself for a shortage as cases continue to rise astoundingly. 

What is unique about delirium in COVID 19 patients is that it is now bedevilling patients of all age groups and not just limited to be experienced by older patients. (Picture for representation only)Reuters

According to the nodal officer and professor at BMCRI Dr Smitha Segu, "We have seen 206 admissions and 91 deaths in ICU (44% of the total) as of July 15. As many as 103 (50%) have been discharged from ICU," she told The New Indian Express. Of these 90% of the patients reported co-morbidities and 30% were above 60 years of age. 

In June, the Union Health Ministry had revealed that only 4.16% of COVID-19 patients required ventilators and ICU support in India. Moreover, the hospital bed dashboard on BBMP's website does show that most ICU and ventilator beds allocated for COVID-19 happen to be available, about 91% in private hospitals as of Friday. However, hospitals continue to turn away patients and ambulances continue to remain scarce as well. The problem right now persists that there isn't enough data for a clear and magnified picture of the situation.