A medical professional tended to a patient receiving respiratory assistance due to a coronavirus infection at the intensive care unit of a university hospital in Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe, a French region in the Caribbean. (Carla Bernhardt – AFP/Lehtikuva)

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HOSPITAL STAFF in Finland have voiced their frustration with the fact that most patients in intensive care with a coronavirus infection have not been vaccinated against the virus, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

“We’ve continued treating coronavirus patients this autumn, and practically everyone of them has been unvaccinated,” said Tero Varpula, the head of intensive care at Jorvi Hospital in Espoo.

“Given that we know vaccines are available, it feels like everyone who ends up in intensive care does so needlessly.”

Nearly a thousand people, the newspaper wrote, have been administered intensive care for Covid-19. Only 10 of them have had fallen ill in spite of receiving both and 41 in spite of receiving the first vaccine dose.

While the shares of over 60-year-old and under 60-year-old intensive care patients have remained largely unchanged during the epidemic, the share of under 60-year-olds has increased markedly after the summer. A growing share (57%) of the patients also had no significant chronic disease and 25 per cent had neither a chronic disease nor overweight.

Varpula told Helsingin Sanomat that although the situation at intensive care units remains relatively calm, with coronavirus patients taking up about 30 beds nationwide, he is concerned about the capacity of staff – especially in light of the pressing staff shortage.

“Many experts have forwarded that the number of unvaccinated people is so high that coronavirus patients will continue to place a burden on intensive care units also going forward,” he reminded.

The number of intensive care patients peaked at 83 in Finland in April 2020.

While he number of patients remains well below the peak, the intensive care periods tend to be relatively long for coronavirus patients, with the average one lasting 11 days.

“Morbidity hasn’t changed when it comes to unvaccinated people, meaning roughly 15 per cent of people in intensive care lose their life despite intensive care,” said Varpula. “If you lie in the unit for 11 days, it’s long enough to lose muscle and strength. Recovering from that takes months.”

The disease is also devastating for lung tissue.

“The lungs are pretty beaten up by difficult forms of the disease. Time will tell us how long and how irreparably the lung capacity will diminish,” Varpula said to Helsingin Sanomat.

A demonstration demanding that the vaccinations of children be halted drew roughly a thousand people to downtown Helsinki on Saturday, according to YLE. The demonstrators also voiced their disapproval to other tools to combat the virus, such as testing and the mooted coronavirus pass.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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