Ministries reported 4,261 new cases on Wednesday morning, including infection for 7 days, that is, the number of new coronavirus infections in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, increased again: according to the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) the value is now 280.9 (as of from Wednesday, 2 p.m.). For comparison: seven days ago the value was 199.6, at the beginning of the month it was 139.2.
Because of vaccination, infection alone is less important, especially since the situation in hospitals is now mentioned as one of the most important factors when assessing the condition. The rapid increase in the past few days is also reflected there: if the numbers were relatively stable from mid-September to mid-October – at that time they were between 600 and 700 occupied regular beds – now more than 1,000 occupied beds. This is the highest value since May 6.
The intensive care units are complete, and their growth is stable
But more important is the occupancy of the intensive care units – not least because the government’s step-by-step plan is based on this. At the moment, the increase in the number of cases has not been observed – 250 beds were occupied throughout Austria, and 234 were there a month ago. However, these are just the beds occupied by CoV patients — including other intensive care patients, according to AGES data, there are more than 60 percent of occupancy in intensive care nationwide. (Vienna does not publish any data on “normal” use of intensive care units).
In an interview with ORF.at, Klaus Markstaller, former president of the Austrian Society of Anaesthesiology, Resuscitation and Intensive Care Medicine (ÖGARI) and intensive care physician at Vienna General Hospital, said that the majority of intensive care units are occupied even without coronavirus – “otherwise it would not make economic sense” , says Markstaller.
25% come from regular care units to intensive care units
Regarding the gradual plan, under which further steps will be initiated in the case of 400 and 500 intensive care beds occupied by CoV patients, the intensive care doctor said this “will not work” in wards without restrictions. At AKH, for example, one can “continue to treat all patients”, but with “enormous organizational efforts”. If there are a lot more coronavirus patients, one will have to “transport the sick”, in the worst case there will be triage.
With the delta variable, the experience has been that about 25 percent of people are transferred from regular care units to intensive care units, Markstaller says. And coronavirus patients were “at the expense of the timely treatment of patients who could have been treated in these intensive care beds.” Markstaller also noted that coronavirus cases have been in the intensive care unit for much longer than other patients — sometimes through waves. Patients spend “an average of three weeks” in the intensive care unit — some for a shorter period, not least because of the deaths, but others for significantly longer, according to Markstoler.
Forecasting Consortium expects a significant increase
The Covid-19 Prediction Consortium also assumes a corresponding increase in the near future: according to its forecast on Wednesday, it is expected to reach 435 patients in intensive care with coronavirus within two weeks. In regular wards, there are at least 1,149 patients, but the number of patients is expected to reach 2,148. This means that the critical use limit of 33 percent can already be exceeded in some federal states. In Vorarlberg, the probability of this is 35 percent, in Vienna 15 percent and in Burgenland ten percent, according to the consortium’s forecast.
The delta variable changed the situation in hospitals
In the previous year, at the end of October, the situation was similar in number: on October 27, 2020, 1197 regular beds and 203 intensive care beds were occupied. Markstaller says that with the delta variant, the situation is different today. “People who aren’t vaccinated get infected more quickly,” and needed extensive medical care. The ratio was previously 1:10 and not the 2.5:10 it is now, the said 25 percent, Markstaller says.
It’s never too late to vaccinate
Experts agree that vaccination interferes with particularly severe courses. Walter Hassebeder, head of Ugari, told the Kleine Zeitung newspaper that “the majority of patients” in intensive care units had not been vaccinated. Markstaller also thinks vaccination makes sense — even if it takes until December to develop protection from vaccination. “It is never too late,” every day you have already been vaccinated is better than the day you were not vaccinated.
Despite all the calls, not only from doctors and politicians, for vaccination, the vaccination rate is hardly moving. Only 4,907 vaccinations in 24 hours were counted in Wednesday’s electronic vaccination card. 63.7 percent of the total population has an active vaccination certificate, including those who recovered this week and who received a single vaccination that was not previously included in this number. 65.6 percent of the total population is at least partially immunized. That’s out of reach of the often required 80 percent.