ISARIC Study Indicates How Social Distancing Could Be Fine-tuned in Near Future to Optimise ‘Protecting Lives’ and ‘Kickstart National Economy’

The recently completed UK-wide, ISARIC Study on analysis of 16749 patients with severe COVID-19 disease across 166 hospitals indicated that those with co-morbidity were at much higher risks while those with no significant comorbidity come out alive suggesting people with no comorbid conditions could be allowed to return to work with caution.

The recently concluded UK-wide study, called the International Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Consortium (ISARIC) study sheds light on the factors that determine the mortality and morbidity in patients infected with COVID-19 disease. The study was conducted across 166 hospitals in the UK by a consortium of researchers on 16749 patients infected with COVID-19. The data was gathered using a pre-approved questionnaire adopted by WHO.

Around 47% of the patients enrolled in the study didn’t have any other diseased condition except COVID-19. The rest had either cardiac disease, asthma, diabetes and non-asthmatic chronic pulmonary disease. The median age of patients in the study was 72 years with median duration of symptoms before admission of 4 days.

The results of the study were pretty interesting. Almost 49% of the 16749 patients were discharged alive, 33% died while the rest 17% needed more intensive care and high dependency on medical interventions. This amounts to ~2800 patients who underwent treatment at intensive care units. Out of the patients receiving intensive care and serious medical intervention, 31% were discharged alive, 45% died and 24% continued to receive care till the reporting date. An interesting inference that can be deduced here is that ~half of 16749 patients were discharged alive while ~similar number has no other co-morbidity condition when admitted. This suggest that even the elderly population aged around 72 years is capable of recovering from the COVID-19 disease, provided they don’t have any pre-existing condition.

Upon amalgamating the entire outcomes, it translates to 54% survival rate of the total number of patients enrolled in the study, 40% mortality and 6% continued receiving intensive care. There is an increase of 7% in survival rate if the patients received intensive care treatment and a similar increase in mortality despite given intensive care.

To sum up, the mortality rate is much higher in COVID-19 patients (~90% of the patients who had an associated co-morbid condition and requiring intensive care) who already have a pre-existing condition mentioned in para 2 above. Another significant finding of this study was that the male obese individuals are more prone to having serious COVID-19 and mortality in addition to the already mentioned co-morbid conditions that cause mortality.

The inferences from the study will help to define and implement strategic measures with respect to social distancing moving forward in order to protect the elderly and young population especially those having an already associated diseased condition as described, and allowing the rest of the population to develop herd immunity, thereby saving huge amount of costs and minimise losses to global economy that we are facing currently.



Docherty, Annemarie B., Harrison, Ewen M., et al 2020. Features of 16,749 hospitalised UK patients with COVID-19 using the ISARIC WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol. Pre- print version Posted on medRxiv on 28 April 2020.


Rajeev Soni
Rajeev Soni
Dr. Rajeev Soni (ORCID ID : 0000-0001-7126-5864) has a Ph.D. in Biotechnology from the University of Cambridge, UK and has 25 years of experience working across the globe in various institutes and multinationals such as The Scripps Research Institute, Novartis, Novozymes, Ranbaxy, Biocon, Biomerieux and as a principal investigator with US Naval Research Lab in drug discovery, molecular diagnostics, protein expression, biologic manufacturing and business development.

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