Alarming passage in the federal-state resolution: Are there actually more younger Covid patients who have been ill for longer? – Knowledge


It was one of the statements that should sharpen the senses again before the Bund-Länder round on Monday for how serious the corona situation is in Germany – especially with a view to variant B.1.1.7: “We are seeing it now already in the intensive care units that the patients are changing there: They are getting younger. ”That said the Vice President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lars Schaade, last week.

Now a sentence emerged in the resolution of the Prime Minister’s Conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel that further dramatized the situation. The load limit of the health system could be reached, also due to the “fact that younger patients generally have a longer stay in the intensive care unit”.

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One thing is clear: the number of intensive care patients is rising again, as forecast a few weeks ago. But what about the sentences of the RKI-Vice and in the draft resolution? Does B.1.1.7 really ensure that more “younger people” have severe disease courses than before?

Not if the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi) has its way. It has no new information on whether the age of corona intensive care patients in Germany has changed.

“At the moment we don’t have any reliable figures that the patients in the intensive care units are getting younger. What we know: The average age of the first and second waves was the same, ”explains Divi President Gernot Marx.

Vaccinations are changing the make-up of patients in hospitals

The average age in intensive care units has so far been around 68 years. This emerges from an evaluation of the health insurance data. However, the Divi expects the average age to decrease. For one simple reason: Because most of the 80-year-olds are vaccinated. “We will no longer see them in the intensive care units, they are protected from severe disease by the vaccination,” says Marx.

This can also be seen in the data from the health insurance companies: More than 75 percent of intensive care patients are currently under 80 years of age – that is, they are not yet protected by vaccinations. “And from the second wave we still know: The chance of survival of 60-year-olds is significantly better than that of 70-year-olds,” says Marx. Age continues to be one of the highest risks of dying from Corona.

This is also shown by other data: In the first and second wave, before the start of the vaccinations, three out of four ventilated patients over 80 years of age died. A Divi spokeswoman confirmed this to the Tagesspiegel. Among patients aged around the average of 68 years, only one in four died.

This also explains the increasing length of stay in intensive care units, says the Divi. Since fewer people over the average of 68 years of age end up in the intensive care unit due to the vaccination campaign, the average age is lower. And because younger people die less often, they stay in the intensive care unit longer.

However, virologists have repeatedly warned in recent weeks that vaccinating the oldest cohorts alone does not bring about relaxation. The fact that only around a quarter of the intensive care patients in the first wave was over 80 years old was also due to the fact that many nursing home residents did not even come to the intensive care units – as they had already died in their facilities.

However, the longer length of stay of intensive care patients is only partially a good sign. It is true that fewer people die there as a result of the vaccination campaign. Yes, according to Divi President Marx: “Our patients are probably marked for life. They won’t recover when we let them go. So we have to keep the number of sick people as low as possible. ”

That is why Marx makes an appeal to all German citizens: “Anyone who is willing as a family not to meet over Easter because the belief in the meeting in the garden in June seems realistic also helps to avoid very difficult courses in the intensive care units. And we don’t want more. ”

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