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“20 times as many infections as before”: What is coming to the intensive care units with Omikron – knowledge


The omicron wave in Germany is not yet reflected in the intensive care units. The number of people infected with corona treated there has fallen just below the 3000 mark for the first time since mid-November, according to data from the Divi intensive care register on Thursday. But that is not an all-clear. In Italy, where Omikron has been dominant for a long time, the number of corona intensive care patients is also increasing again. It is similar in France and Spain. In Germany, Omikron is particularly widespread in the north and is causing the number of infections to skyrocket. In Bremen and Berlin, the seven-day incidence is already over 1000. In Hamburg it is 829.3. [Wenn Sie alle aktuellen Entwicklungen zur Coronavirus-Pandemie live auf Ihr Handy haben wollen, empfehlen wir Ihnen unsere App, die Sie hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen können.]This development arrives with a delay in the intensive care units. In general, it takes a while for an infected person to end up there in the worst case. This varies depending on the variant, from a good week to more than two; there is still no certainty regarding Omikron.

Doctors assume that Omikron will have fewer intensive care patients

At the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, 50 to 60 percent of the corona intensive care patients are currently infected with the Delta variant. Stefan Kluge is Director of the Clinic for Intensive Care Medicine at the UKE. He expects the number of omicron-infected people in intensive care to increase, but not by leaps and bounds. “At Omikron we see that the patients are not so seriously ill. An infection does not lead to ventilation and death so often, ”says the intensive care doctor to the Tagesspiegel. The scientific director of the Divi intensive care register, Christian Karagiannidis, also assumes that there are relatively fewer intensive care patients. While with the Delta variant around every fifth corona patient (20 percent) who came to a hospital required intensive medical care, with Omikron it was only around every tenth patient, he told the dpa. Despite the less severe course of the disease, intensive care physicians are alarmed. Simply because of the sheer number of new infections. Omikron is easier to transmit – even in vaccinated and recovered people. More people get infected. “If I have 20 times as many infections as before because of Omikron, at some point the clinics will also be heavily burdened,” says Hamburg clinic director Stefan Kluge

The vaccination rate makes the decisive difference. A third vaccination protects very well (85 to 90 percent) against serious illnesses caused by omicron infections. Older people in particular now have to be vaccinated, otherwise the risk for them is still high. “The booster campaign hasn’t gone far enough in Germany,” says Kluge. Other countries would be better off. In Denmark, where the omicron variant now accounts for 96 percent of all new infections, the curve of new infections, which has risen steeply in the meantime, has flattened out again. Health Minister Magnus Heunicke announced that the situation in the intensive care units was being monitored. But the situation is under control. Almost 55 percent of all people in Denmark have already received a booster vaccination. In Germany, the booster rate is 45.1 percent. Groups that are particularly at risk can get their fourth vaccination in neighboring Denmark.

Unvaccinated people currently make up the majority of all Covid 19 admissions to intensive care units across Germany. Between December 14, 2021 and January 12, 2022, almost two thirds (62 percent) of the new Covid 19 admissions with known vaccination status were unvaccinated, said the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency medicine (DIVI) on Thursday with.

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Around 9.6 percent had incomplete immune protection (recovered without vaccination or partial immunization). According to this, 28.4 percent of the Covid 19 admissions in intensive care units had full vaccination protection (basic immunization or booster), the proportion with booster vaccination was around 5.8 percent.

Old age and previous illnesses favor vaccine breakthroughs

According to Kluge, there are several reasons why almost six percent are in intensive care despite triple vaccination. In addition to very old age, other factors favor vaccination breakthroughs. “The vaccinated people in the intensive care unit usually have serious previous illnesses,” he says. Patients with an impaired immune system are affected, for example because they have had a transplant, are suffering from cancer or are taking medication that suppresses the immune system. In addition, immunization protection decreases over time. If, for example, an 80-year-old was immunized nine months ago, the protection is no longer sufficient. Not even against Omicron. (with dpa)

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