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Some hospitalised anti-vaxxers also refuse drugs, doctors say

Hospitals report some unvaccinated Covid patients are also sceptical of medical therapies to treat the disease.

Hoitajat työskentelevät potilaan ympärillä.
ICU nurses must constantly monitor Covid patients. This includes adjusting respirators and administering drugs to support blood circulation. Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

Meilahti Tower Hospital in Helsinki says some of its patients unvaccinated for coronavirus are also refusing to accept medical interventions to treat Covid.

Respiratory specialist Hanna–Riikka Kreivi told Yle that a year ago Covid patients were willing to accept any necessary care.

Today nearly every one of Kreivi's Covid patients is unvaccinated.

"The same group that's resisting vaccines is also often sceptical of medication," she said.

Meilahti's 18-bed heart and lung centre is currently treating more Covid patients than a year ago. Since the start of the autumn coronavirus patients have occupied five to fifteen beds at the unit.

"From a broader perspective, there's a risk that the misinformation that's spread in relation to coronavirus and Covid vaccines will erode general trust in both medical science and authorities," Kreivi said.

Her unit is also studying the efficacy of medical therapies on Covid. The aim is to discover treatments to keep patients out of intensive care.

"Patients' suspicion and fear are driving their reluctance to take part in Covid medical studies," said Kreivi, who is one of the doctors in Finland researching Covid candidate drugs in global clinical trials, known as 'Solidarity trials' run by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Research professor Kari Tikkinen, who is running Finland's Solidarity study on Covid therapies, told Yle that this sort of scepticism towards the medical establishment also extends beyond the capital region. He said more people are turning down participation in the Solidarity study than signing up for it.

"Some unvaccinated young individuals felt that they didn't need the jab because their risk of becoming seriously ill was small," Tikkinen said, adding that he had also heard of Covid patients regretting their decision to not get vaccinated.

He noted that some Covid patients arriving at hospitals are immediately admitted to ICU because of difficulty breathing.

Men aged 40-60 typical Covid ICU patients

The most typical ICU Covid patient is an unvaccinated man between the ages of 40 and 60, according to Stepani Bendel, who heads the intensive care unit at Kuopio University Hospital.

"There are many patients whose only risk factor is being unvaccinated," he said.

The past few weeks have seen a slight uptick in the number of Covid patients in Finnish ICUs. On Saturday 171 Covid patients were hospitalised, an increase of 67 patients in the past two weeks.

Finland has been treating Covid patients in intensive care over the past 18 months. As of Saturday, just over 73 percent of the population over the age of 12 was fully vaccinated.

"As long as we have this amount of unvaccinated people, we'll be seeing similar ICU numbers through the winter, possibly even longer," Bendel said.

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