Hong Kong’s top pandemic doctor sees a way out of intensive care for thousands of Covid-19 patients: keeping them from entering in the first place.
After sobering experiences 17 years ago with the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, Yuen Kwok-Yung is advocating early, aggressive hospitalization and treatment to minimize ravaging disease and death. Hong Kong’s 2% Covid-19 fatality rate as of Friday, well below the global average, lends weight to the approach.
Most therapies for SARS-CoV-2 are authorized for use in severely ill patients, in some cases backed by research that’s still in question. Yuen, the Henry Fok professor in infectious diseases at the University of Hong Kong for 15 years, is admitting patients with minimal disease so they can be isolated, monitored and treated if needed.
“In places like the U.K. and U.S., usually if you have mild symptoms, you are not admitted to a hospital at all — you just wait at home until you feel very bad or you have shortness of breath,” he explained over Zoom from his office. “But we basically admit any patients, even without much symptoms, into the hospital for isolation.”