The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need for understanding pathways to healthcare demand, morbidity, and mortality of pandemic patients. We estimate H1N1 1) hospitalization rates, 2) severity rates (length of stay, ventilation, pneumonia, and death) of those hospitalized, 3) mortality rates, and 4) time lags between infections and hospitalizations during the pandemic (June 2009 to March 2010) and post-pandemic influenza season (November 2010 to February 2011) in England.
Estimates of H1N1 infections from a dynamic transmission model are combined with hospitalizations and severity using time series econometric analyses of administrative patient-level hospital data.
Hospitalization rates were 34% higher and severity rates of those hospitalized were 20% – 90% higher in the post-pandemic period than the pandemic. Adults (45-64-years-old) had the highest ventilation and pneumonia hospitalization rates. Hospitalizations did not lag infection during the pandemic for the young (< 24-years-old) but lagged by one or more weeks for all ages in the post-pandemic period.
The post-pandemic flu season exhibited heightened H1N1 severity, long after the pandemic was declared over. Policymakers should remain vigilant even after pandemics seem to have subsided. Analysis of administrative hospital data and epidemiological modelling estimates can provide valuable insights to inform responses to COVID-19 and future influenza and other disease pandemics.