The chances of survival of the coronavirus after a serious illness have increased significantly since the pandemic began, data shows.
Scientists say that with improved treatment, the death rate among the most critically ill patients has fallen by nearly a third since the peak.
The numbers were also supported by broader tests that found a greater number of less serious cases.
The proportion of patients who die in intensive care units in hospitals has fallen from around 30 percent to less than 20 percent since April.
Even more noticeable is the decline in the mortality rate in relation to all hospitalized patients – from 6 percent at its peak to around 2 percent.
Professor Peter Horby has welcomed the "good news" that the proportion of Covid 19 patients who die in hospital has fallen dramatically since April
Professor Peter Horby, a member of the government's Emergency Scientific Advisory Group, welcomed the “good news” with the rising number of cases.
He said that improved testing and traceability skills combined with a "much better understanding of the disease" have resulted in the death rate among the sick falling to less than a fifth.
"It's great to see the risk of death in hospital patients drop," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.
Government data shows that the North West, North East and Yorkshire are the only regions where the number of people being hospitalized has increased steadily and sharply (line charts show daily hospital admissions between April and October).
“In the last wave it was pretty high at 25 to 30 percent. And while the data is preliminary, it looks like it's going down and below 20 percent. So that's good news. "
Experts agree that treatment breakthroughs have had the biggest impact on the death rate of people with coronavirus.
Dexamethasone, a widely used steroid that costs around 50p a day, was found to cut deaths by a third in the sickest patients.
The antiviral drug Remdesivir, originally developed to fight Ebola, has also been found to improve recovery time in sick patients.
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Dr. Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health at Oxford University, added, “We have shown that dexamethasone is very effective in critically ill patients, reducing the number of ICU deaths by about a third, which is really fantastic.
“And so we can build on that with other anti-inflammatory drugs and test them.
"We have seen that remdesivir can shorten hospital stays … and we are also learning that blood clotting is a major problem in this disease, and we are also learning that if we can address survival, we can improve."
"So there are a number of ways we can better understand disease, and I think we can improve that further."
NHS data on the number of inpatients treated for coronavirus and hospital deaths from Covid-19 supports this trend. About 6 percent of those admitted to hospitals in England with the virus died in early April.
However, earlier this month that number had dropped to around 2 percent, a third of what it was at the height of the crisis. In the summer, data from ICNARC – the National Audit and Research Center for Intensive Care Medicine – showed that the risk of an ICU patient with Covid-19 dying within 28 days fell by at least a fifth between March and June.
And that was before effective drugs like dexamethasone were shown to reduce deaths even further.
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In March, before the height of the crisis, 44 out of 100 ICU patients died within 28 days. During its peak – between March 29 and April 14 – that number had dropped to 41 deaths per 100.
And by the time approvals fell again between mid-April and early July, deaths had dropped to 34 per 100. According to the data, the people admitted this winter can be expected to have even better chances of survival.
A separate analysis by the University of Bristol of 20 global studies involving 10,000 participants found that the proportion of patients dying from Covid-19 in intensive care has fallen by a third since March.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, said the proportion of younger people contracting the virus has also improved survival rates.
Although younger people with the virus can be hospitalized, they are less likely to get seriously ill.
"Doctors can better keep people alive with experience," he added.
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