Hyderabad: A study on the impact of COVID-19 on dialysis patients revealed that the mortality rate of dialysis patients was high in the second wave compared to the first. This means more number of patients suffering from kidney ailments died in the second wave compared to the first.
An independent study done by NephroPlu called "Impact of COVID-19 on dialysis patients and the benefits of vaccination" focused on patients suffering from kidney failure. The study was published in the reputed international nephrology journal 'Kidney International Reports'. NephroPlus also studied the rate of infections, hospitalizations, and mortality among vaccinated patients across India with findings showing that vaccines are truly effective against COVID-19.
In the first wave, 14,573 dialysis patients were studied. Of the total number of people infected with COVID-19, 99% were hospitalized for an average of 12 days and the mortality rate stood at 23%.
Beside this alarming figure, the ripple effect on dialysis patients not infected with COVID-19 was also massive, according to the report. Government take-over and conversion of dialysis centres to COVID centres greatly affected treatment and discouraged patients from attending dialysis sessions. This resulted in an increase in mortality among dialysis patients from 15% in 2019 to 20% in 2020.
The study further sampled 17,662 patients in the second wave. Of these 1,111 or 6.2% of the screened patients were infected with COVID-19 and the mortality rate was a staggering 32.76%. This is far greater than the mortality rate recorded in 2019 within the same period.
Age is another important variable that comes to bear in the study. The mean age of COVID-infected people was 53.63, with 45% of all infected persons above the age of 55.
According to the principal investigator, Dr. Vivekanand Jha, the study showed that infections, hospitalizations, and mortality rate were all significantly reduced among people who had taken at least one dose of the vaccine. "We found that those patients on dialysis who had taken even one dose of the vaccine had as much as 33% reduced risk of getting COVID infection compared to those who were not vaccinated. More notable was the halving of the risk of death, even if they got COVID-19," he said.
Dr. Jha further added that the study provides a nationwide snapshot of the health effects of the pandemic on the vulnerable population who did not have the choice of isolation or social distancing and needed to come to dialysis centers regularly. "We found that COVID infection among patients on dialysis was 20-fold greater than that reported in the general population, when adjusted for age and sex. While it was 8.7% among dialysis patients during the study period, the infection among the general population stood at 0.44% during the same time period," he said.
The study is also a strong statement for doubters and anti-vaccine proponents to understand how important COVID vaccines are in the fight against the pandemic. The COVID vaccine reluctance that is seen among many individuals who do not believe in the existence of the virus or the safety of the vaccines is another major problem.
Kamal D. Shah, co-founder of NephroPlus and co-author of the study, said, "It is very important for dialysis patients to know that they have a high risk of contracting this lethal virus and die if they don't take the vaccine. That is what our study shows."