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HUS: Increasing number of double vaccinated patients hospitalised for Covid

Nearly all the vaccinated individuals who were hospitalised have an underlying medical condition.

Deputy chief physician at HUS Eeva Ruotsalainen recommends using FFP masks whenever possible. Image: Katriina Laine / Yle

There has been a significant rise in the number of vaccinated patients requiring intensive care for coronavirus, according to weekly estimates from the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS).

"39 percent of the patients who were being treated for coronavirus in the intensive care units of Meilahti and Jorvi last Friday had received two doses of the vaccine," Eeva Ruotsalainen, the deputy chief physician for infectious diseases at HUS, revealed.

Vaccinated individuals have accounted for 10 percent of patients hospitalised for Covid-19 thus far, with HUS reporting that the majority of patients were unvaccinated.

The hospital district had a total of 20 Covid-19 patients ranging between 20-60 years of age in intensive care last week. The number of patients who had been vaccinated was exceptionally high compared to the previous weeks and months.

"There have only been a few individual cases of intensive care patients who are double vaccinated. The majority of patients have been unvaccinated. In that sense, this is a clear increase and indicates that the virus is now on the move," Ruotsalainen said.

According to Ruotsalainen, most of the double vaccinated people who were hospitalised for the coronavirus last week had an underlying medical condition that increases the risk for severe illness. Additionally, a significant amount of time had passed after they received their second vaccine dose.

She attributed the rising number of vaccinated patients to the waning protection of the second dose and the increased risk of severe illness for high-risk patients due to the recent surge in infections.

"I believe that given the current epidemic situation, there is a strong urgency to give people the third dose," Ruotsalainen stated.

"We know that vaccine efficacy is considerably lower for the elderly and those in high-risk groups compared to people who are of working age and healthy. These patients require additional protection," she added.

HUS is reportedly closely monitoring the rise in the number of vaccinated Covid-19 patients to determine whether the trend will continue and lead to an increase in patients requiring intensive care.

"I would like to emphasise; however, that 60 percent of coronavirus patients in intensive care are unvaccinated and that while the double vaccinated patients in intensive care were of working age, most of them have an underlying medical condition such as diabetes," Ruotsalainen said.

She also advised against comparing the Omicron variant of the coronavirus to the seasonal flu, which is not as contagious as the former and does not result in as high a morbidity rate, and stressed that people should continue to follow precautions such as replacing surgical masks with the more effective FFP masks.