The number of corona intensive care patients has fallen just below the 3000 mark for the first time since mid-November, according to data from the Divi intensive care register. The WHO recommends two other drugs.
Number of intensive care patients still declining
The rolling omicron wave in Germany has not yet had an impact on the intensive care units. The number of people infected with corona treated there has fallen just below the 3000 mark for the first time since mid-November, according to data from the Divi intensive care register. Since the peak of the fourth wave in December with around 5,000 corona intensive care patients at the same time, the number has steadily decreased. The trend is also declining in the number of reported first-time admissions.
However, experts see no reason to give the all-clear for the next few weeks, partly because of open questions about Omicron and an expected further increase in infections. In general, there is a delay before an infected person – in the worst case – ends up in the intensive care unit. The duration can vary depending on the variant, from a good week to more than two; there is still no certainty regarding Omikron.
“We shouldn’t see an increase in the number of intensive care patients in Germany quite so quickly,” expects Christian Karagiannidis, scientific director of the Divi intensive care register. However, he warned against dismissing Omicron as mild – even if the variant per se is actually less pathogenic than Delta. “There is also a risk with omicron, especially for people who are not vaccinated,” said Karagiannidis.
According to the RKI, omicron has recently spread further in Germany, and there have been cases in almost all districts. A sharp increase in infections is expected in the coming weeks. Omikron is also easier to transmit to vaccinated and recovered people.
Hospitals: Legal uncertainty in the case of institution-related vaccination requirements
The German Hospital Society (DKG) and the trade union Verdi see great legal uncertainty in the implementation of the corona vaccination requirement in facilities with vulnerable people such as clinics and nursing homes. “From March 15th we have to report to the health authorities from whom we have not received proof of vaccination,” said DKG boss Gerald Gass to the newspapers of the Funke media group.
Then, according to him, the health department would have to approach these people, set them a deadline by which they would have to provide proof and then inform the hospitals about the current status. “But it is unclear what that means for us if the employees do not present proof of vaccination from March 15th,” says Gass. “Do we then release the employees? And has that been clearly clarified under labor law?” According to the DKG lawyers, it is not.
The health expert on the ver.di federal board, Sylvia Bühler, told the newspapers: “In our view, nobody should be fired because of the institution-related vaccination requirement.” No one should be completely lost to the healthcare system, all workers are needed. “Therefore: dismissals may not be pronounced. That is our political and legal view.”
Hospital society: normal wards will soon be heavily burdened
The head of the German Hospital Society, Gerald Gass, fears that the normal wards in the clinics will be heavily burdened in view of the increasing number of corona infections. Gaß told the editorial network Germany (RND): “But this also means that the outpatient sector will face a new challenge.”
Doctors in private practice would have to treat their patients more on an outpatient basis in order to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed, said Gass. “This includes more home visits in old people’s homes and for people living alone,” said Gass. “We have to protect the hospitals from being overloaded, because we must not forget that there are still over 3,000 Covid patients in the intensive care units.”
Changed quarantine rules pass the Bundestag
The Bundestag has cleared the way for the new quarantine rules agreed between the federal and state governments in the corona pandemic. The regulation, which was approved on Thursday evening, creates, among other things, the legal framework for triple vaccinated contact persons of corona infected people no longer having to isolate themselves. In addition, shorter quarantine times are made possible in order to prevent the collapse of personnel in important care areas when the number of infections increases sharply. Before the ordinance can come into force, the Bundesrat still has to approve it today.
WHO recommends two other drugs
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends two other medicines for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. These are the active substance baricitinib, which was developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody specially developed for Covid-19 patients.
The new recommendation is based on seven studies with more than 4,000 patients, the WHO experts reported in the specialist magazine “The BMJ”. According to the new guideline, seriously ill Covid-19 patients have better chances of survival with baricitinib and the need for artificial ventilation is reduced. No side effects were observed. The drug should be administered in combination with corticosteroids.
Covid-19 patients with a less severe course of the disease but a high risk of hospitalization could benefit from the use of the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab, writes the WHO. The product with the brand name Xevudy is also approved in the EU.