Some good news for a change on the Covid front. Cases may be spiking again, but it does appear that death rates among hospitalized Covid-19 patients are dropping an average of 18 percentage points across all demographics, even among the older and more vulnerable patients (so the decreased death rate is not just because more younger patients are getting it now).

The study, which was of a single health system, finds that mortality has dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points since the pandemic began. Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic; they now have a 7.6% chance.

That's a big improvement, but 7.6% is still a high risk compared with other diseases, and Horwitz and other researchers caution that COVID-19 remains dangerous.

The death rate "is still higher than many infectious diseases, including the flu," Horwitz says. And those who recover can suffer complications for months or even longer. "It still has the potential to be very harmful in terms of long-term consequences for many people."
This is most likely because doctors have learned how best to care for Covid patients. However, the death rate is still higher than for other infectious respiratory type diseases, including the flu, and of course there are also the risk of long-term complications and debility. However, other factors could be driving this too. For instance widespread mask wearing could reduce the initial viral load that patients receive, which can lead to milder or more recoverable illness. And of course keeping hospitals below their maximum capacity also improves survival rates. Overcrowded ICUS and overworked staff won't be able to provide the best care for their patients.

It is important for people to remember that this promising news does not mean Covid is now a benign illness that one should be blase about the way some might be about the flu or a cold or that they should stop wearing masks or social distancing.

Another bit of encouraging news is that masks really do appear to work for preventing spread (if everyone wears them). A study involving Emirates airline (which is very strict about masking) flights from Dubai to Hong Kong (where all passengers are screened upon landing, quarantined for two weeks, then screened again) suggests that mask wearing is a highly effective means at preventing spread on long plane flights.