Intensive care units would experience severe strain from high-risk groups of COVID-19


As the COVID-19 situation grows, intensive care units (ICUs) in hospitals have to handle more patients with severe cases of the virus. COVID-19 can be more severe for those individuals with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma along with immune-compromised or older individuals. As Europe and the US have millions of people with pre-existing health conditions, ICUs in these countries are expected to experience severe strain if the exponential growth of COVID-19 does not taper off, says GlobalData.


In 2020, it is estimated that there are 49 million cases of diabetes and 25 million of heart disease in the six major markets (6MM*).


Bishal Bhandari, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData, commented: “GlobalData epidemiologists modelled a hypothetical scenario in 6MM where 30% of heart disease cases had COVID-19 and 40% of those patients required treatment in an ICU. Based on these assumptions, epidemiologists forecast that 3.1 million people with heart disease will be infected with COVID-19 and require ICU treatment in 2020, which is significantly higher than the 6MM’s ICU capacity. This number assumes minimal implementation of disease prevention measures and a massive surge in cases within one month of local disease transmission of COVID-19.”


Bhandari continued: “The majority of countries in Europe are now in lockdown, prohibiting all non-essential travel. This suggests that the actual number of cases requiring treatment in an ICU will be lower, as demand for treatment would spread out over a few months. Additionally, the need for ICUs could be eliminated for a large proportion of the populations if local transmission can be stamped out.”


While currently ICUs would not be able to withstand this exponential growth, measures are being taken to reduce the effect and flatten the curve.  Social distancing, lock down, and testing can help reduce the outbreak and reduce the potential strain on hospitals, while at the same time ramping up temporary treatment places and equipment.


* The US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.