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Unvaccinated Covid-19 patients are four times more likely to end up in ICUs

Children and wealthier people have higher transmission rates in sixth wave of pandemic


05 December 2021 11:57 AM


Guifré Jordan|Barcelona

Covid-19 patients are four times more likely to end up in the ICU if they are not vaccinated.

Catalan health department figures on those who required hospitalization due to the virus in November show that 9.5 of 100,000 unvaccinated inhabitants aged 12 or more had spent time in ICUs last month – a figure that dropped to 2.3 among the vaccinated.

The difference is even wider for those aged 50 and older, who are six times more likely to end up in ICUs if they refuse to get a jab – 27.2 of every 100,000 unvaccinated inhabitants in this age range needed ICU care, far more than the 4.4 per 100,000 vaccinated in the same age range.

The trend is similar among those in regular hospital beds in November. There were 2.3 times more unvaccinated people in hospitals, a figure that rose to 3.2 times more for those aged 50 and above.

As for ages, the trend in the sixth wave in Catalonia is clear: children under 12, who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine, have the highest transmission rates. As of November 27, the average incidence rate over 14 days (IA14) was 214.95 per 100,000 people, but it was almost twice as high among the 0-9 age group (411). Among 10- to 19-year-olds, which includes children who are still excluded from the rollout, there was an incidence rate of 279, which was only behind that of children in their first decade of life and people between 40 and 49 (293).

Those between 80 and 89 (IA14 152), people aged 20 to 29 (163) and people between the ages of 70 and 79 (195) have the lowest rates.

Authorities are expected to begin the rollout for kids between 5 and 11 shortly as the European Medicines Agency is now recommending inoculating them.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Catalan health department officials explained that well-off areas in Barcelona were registering higher transmission rates, "because they tend to have more social interactions and they travel more."

As for counties, the sixth wave is affecting Ripollès, near the Pyrenees, far more than the other 41 regions (with an IA14 of 1,291 as of November 27), and the western counties surrounding Lleida, such as Alt Urgell, Noguera, Urgell, Garrigues and Pla d'Urgell) are also topping transmission rate ranking.

The incidence rate per municipality map shows several towns in the Lleida area have an IA14 of above 200, with some even at 400. While part of the inland and Pyrenees are green, with almost no impact of the pandemic at the moment, most of the municipalities along the coast have rates of between 75 and 200. 

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Dr. Magda Campins – chair of Catalonia's Covid-19 Scientific Advisory Committee and head of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology at Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona – on the Omicron variant, booster shots, and why Christmas office parties should be avoided. Press play below to listen or subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, or Spotify.  

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