The Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) is the largest health care provider in Mexico, covering about 48% of the Mexican population. In this report, we describe the epidemiological patterns related to confirmed cases, hospitalizations, intubations, and in-hospital mortality due to COVID-19 and associated factors, during five epidemic waves recorded in the IMSS surveillance system.
We analyzed COVID-19 laboratory-confirmed cases from the Online Epidemiological Surveillance System (SINOLAVE) from March 29th, 2020, to August 27th, 2022. We constructed weekly epidemic curves describing temporal patterns of confirmed cases and hospitalizations by age, gender, and wave. We also estimated hospitalization, intubation, and hospital case fatality rates. The mean days of in-hospital stay and hospital admission delay were calculated across five pandemic waves. Logistic regression models were employed to assess the association between demographic factors, comorbidities, wave, and vaccination and the risk of severe disease and in-hospital death.
A total of 3,396,375 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases were recorded across the five waves. The introduction of rapid antigen testing at the end of 2020 increased detection and modified epidemiological estimates. Overall, 11% (95% CI 10.9, 11.1) of confirmed cases were hospitalized, 20.6% (95% CI 20.5, 20.7) of the hospitalized cases were intubated, and the hospital case fatality rate was 45.1% (95% CI 44.9, 45.3). The mean in-hospital stay was 9.11 days, and patients were admitted on average 5.07 days after symptoms onset. The most recent waves dominated by the Omicron variant had the highest incidence. Hospitalization, intubation, and mean hospitalization days decreased during subsequent waves. The in-hospital case fatality rate fluctuated across waves, reaching its highest value during the second wave in winter 2020. A notable decrease in hospitalization was observed primarily among individuals ≥ 60 years. The risk of severe disease and death was positively associated with comorbidities, age, and male gender; and declined with later waves and vaccination status.
During the five pandemic waves, we observed an increase in the number of cases and a reduction in severity metrics. During the first three waves, the high in-hospital fatality rate was associated with hospitalization practices for critical patients with comorbidities.