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Mortality Risk Up for Dialysis Patients in March to July 2020

FRIDAY, April 9, 2021 -- Patients undergoing dialysis and those with kidney transplants had increased mortality risk in 2020 compared with 2017 to 2019, according to a study published online April 8 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Eric D. Weinhandl, Ph.D., from the Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute in Minneapolis, and colleagues estimated rates of COVID-19 hospitalization, excess mortality, and changes in rates of non-COVID-19 hospitalization among patients with end-stage kidney disease in 2020. The adjusted relative rates (ARRs) of death during epidemiological weeks 13 to 27 (March 22 to July 4, 2020) were compared to the corresponding weeks in 2017 to 2019.

The researchers found that the rate of COVID-19 hospitalization peaked between March 22 and April 25 among dialysis patients. Higher rates of COVID-19 hospitalization were seen in association with both non-Hispanic Black race and Hispanic ethnicity, while lower rates were seen in association with peritoneal dialysis. Compared with 2017 to 2019, the ARRs of death in 2020 versus 2017 to 2019 were 1.17 and 1.30 among patients undergoing dialysis and with a functioning transplant, respectively. Among non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and Asian patients, excess mortality was higher. Compared with 2017 to 2019, during weeks 13 to 27 in 2020, the rate of non-COVID-19 hospitalization among dialysis patients was 17 percent lower.

"With markedly higher rates of all-cause mortality in both dialysis and kidney transplant patients during the second quarter of 2020, there is now a clear rationale for prioritization of kidney failure patients in COVID-19 vaccination schedules promulgated by states," Weinhandl said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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