Using data from a private provider of telemedicine to assess the severity of the early 2021 Covid-19 wave in Brazil
In early 2021, Brazil saw a dramatic recurrence in Covid-19 cases associated to the spread of a novel variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the P1 variant. In light of previous reports showing that this variant is more transmissible and more likely to infect people who had recovered from previous infection, a retrospective analysis was conducted to assess if the early 2021 Covid-19 wave in Brazil was associated with an increase in the number of individuals presenting with a more severe clinical course. Fifty-one thousand and fourteen individuals who underwent telemedicine consultations were divided into two groups: patients seen on or before January 31, 2021, and on or after February 1, 2021. These dates were chosen based on the spread of the P1 variant in Brazil. Referral to the emergency department (ED) was used as a marker of a more severe course of the disease. No differences were seen in the proportion of patients referred to the ED in each group nor in the odds ratio of being referred to the ED from the 1st of February 2021 (OR=0.909; 95%CI: 0.81-1.01). Considering the entire cohort, age had an impact on the odds of being referred to the ED, with individuals older than 59 years showing twice the risk of the remaining population and those less than 19 years showing a lower risk.