© Andriy Onufriyenko

70% of hospitalised Covid patients are vaccinated, but the vaccines are working

Belgian health minister Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist/Vooruit) told the health select committee up to seventy percent of Covid patients in Flemish hospitals are fully vaccinated.  The figure may raise an eyebrow, but on closer inspection doesn’t mean the vaccines are not working.

333 patients were in a Flemish hospital with Covid between 16 and 22 October.  70.9% were fully vaccinated.  29.1% were not. However, the facts still show that people with Covid who are unvaccinated end up in hospital more quickly than patients who are fully vaccinated.  In Flanders over 90% of adults are fully vaccinated and this group is far larger than the group of unvaccinated people.

Look at Belgium as a whole are the figure for the same period shows 54% of Covid patients in hospital were fully vaccinated, a reflection of the lower vaccination rates in some parts of the country.

The figures also show that overall and compared with earlier waves fewer people are ending up in hospital when they catch Covid.  The number of hospitalisations during the current fourth wave is markedly lower than during the three previous waves. Hospitalisations, admissions to ICUs and the number of patients on a ventilator are all far lower as this Sciensano chart shows.

A comparison between September/October last year and this year shows over 5.5% of cases ended up in hospital last year, whereas this year the figure hasn’t exceeded 3.5%.

Steven Callens of Ghent University Hospital UZ explains why fully vaccinated people are ending up in hospital: “The delta variant is catchier.  Corona measures were relaxed in October and protection against mild illness through vaccination does start to wane after six months”.

Fully vaccinated patients in hospital are often older and may have underlying health issues.

“Few healthy vaccinated people end up in hospital.  If they do, hospitalisation is shorter” says Callens.  “In critical care many patients are not fully vaccinated”.

Figures from the health minister show 60% of patients in Flemish ICUs are fully vaccinated, 40% are unvaccinated.”

Deaths too are lower during the fourth wave: at the height of waves two and three over 200 people were dying a day.  Today the figure stands at 17 as the seven-day average.

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