Deaths from COVID‐19. During a surge, anaesthetists and intensivists predominantly care for patients who are admitted to hospital with severe COVID‐19 and who become critically ill or require intensive care admission. This is a select group in terms of age, comorbidity and risk. It is therefore useful to add some context.

By the end of May 2020, approximately 7% of the UK population had evidence of a previous SARS‐CoV‐2 infection [14]. If infected with COVID‐19, the risk of requiring hospital admission is unknown, but may be as high as 15%. Among hospitalised patients, approximately 17% required intensive care admission [15]. Mortality for those admitted to intensive care is approximately 41% [1617].

On 5 June 2020, there had been 46,104 deaths from COVID‐19 registered in England and Wales [18]. Of these deaths, 67% had occurred in hospital and 31% in care homes [19]. At the same time, the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) reported 3615 deaths in intensive care patients, suggesting that only approximately 10% of all COVID‐19 deaths occur in intensive care (Fig. 1) [20]. More than 90% of COVID‐19 deaths occur in those aged > 65 y and almost half in those aged > 85 y [21]. The characteristics of patients dying in hospital but outside intensive care, and outside hospital, differ significantly from those dying in intensive care, where the median age of those dying is 61 y [15].

First published: 17 July 2020

Reprinted for educational purposes and social benefit, not for profit.