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One of the main challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is to make sense of available, but often heterogeneous and noisy data. This contribution presents a data-driven methodology that allows exploring the hospitalization dynamics of COVID-19, exemplified with a study of 17 autonomous regions in Spain from summer 2020 to summer 2021.
We use data on new daily cases and hospitalizations reported by the Spanish Ministry of Health to implement a Bayesian inference method that allows making short-term predictions of bed occupancy of COVID-19 patients in each of the autonomous regions of the country.
We show how to use the temporal series for the number of daily admissions and discharges from hospital to reproduce the hospitalization dynamics of COVID-19 patients. For the case-study of the region of Aragon, we estimate that the probability of being admitted to hospital care upon infection is 0.090 [0.086-0.094], (95% C.I.), with the distribution governing hospital admission yielding a median interval of 3.5 days and an IQR of 7 days. Likewise, the distribution on the length of stay produces estimates of 12 days for the median and 10 days for the IQR. A comparison between model parameters for the regions analyzed allows to detect differences and changes in policies of the health authorities.
We observe important regional differences, signaling that to properly compare very different populations, it is paramount to acknowledge all the diversity in terms of culture, socio-economic status, and resource availability. To better understand the impact of this pandemic, much more data, disaggregated and properly annotated, should be made available.
A. Aleta, J. L. Blas-Laína, G. T. Anglés, Y. Moreno, Unraveling the COVID-19 hospitalization dynamics in Spain using Bayesian inference, BMC Medical Research Methodology 23 (2023) 24