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Coronavirus vaccination campaign among the elderly in Spain is starting to pay off

Malaga's Regional Hospital. File photograph.
Malaga's Regional Hospital. File photograph. / ÑITO SALAS
  • The average age of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital is the lowest of the pandemic; proof that vaccines work is that the majority of the elderly still admitted for coronavirus decided not to be vaccinated, says an expert

Vaccination against coronavirus among the edlerly in Spain is beginning to pay off. For weeks hospitals have been detecting a significant decrease in the average age of patients admitted with Covid-19. The immunity achieved in care homes and among those over 80 years of age, the first vaccinated groups, has changed the profile of hospitalised patients.

This is claimed by the two main hospitals in Malaga: the Regional (formerly the Carlos Haya) and the Virgen de la Victoria (Clínico). Patients are now younger, with an average age of 60, and have less severe clinical diagnoses say the doctors.

This does not mean that the virus has lost virulence, but rather, being younger, people who are admitted with the infection have fewer previous health problems and recover more quickly.

But there is still an age range that worries doctors: the group between 60 and 80 years old, who are still considered at risk due to their age and the low percentage fully protected against the disease. Their vaccinations began a few weeks ago and they are far from reaching the immunity offered by the two doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

A medical expert said that proof that vaccines work is that now the majority of the elderly admitted for coronavirus had decided not to be vaccinated.

José Luis Velasco, deputy medical director of the Clínico explained, "Over 80 years old, we only have six patients and they were not vaccinated."

Of the 15 patients in hospital with Covid-19 over the age of 70, 14 had not received the vaccine: "When you discuss it with them, they tell you that they had fears and that is why they had not been vaccinated".

Currently the age group with the highest percentage of admissions corresponds to people between 70 and 79 years old, for whom the vaccination campaign has just started: "The average age has dropped a lot, and it continues to fall," said Velasco.

The deputy medical director said, “Now the elderly don't come from care homes, and the infection rate among health workers has also dropped a lot. The vaccine is the way out of the pandemic, but we still have to protect ourselves.”

He added, “There is still a long way to go to reach ‘herd’ immunity, with the goal of vaccinating at least 70 per cent of the adult population, but the end of the epidemic no longer seems like a pipe dream.”

Marcial Delgado, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Regional Hospital, also said, "We see that when the vaccination campaign is extended to a certain group, the hospital admissions of that group drop a lot."

"Age is the main risk factor. The older you are the more likely it is that the disease will complicate things. Many of the older age groups are already vaccinated. That is why the risk of death has decreased, because the patients are younger and have fewer previous pathologies.”

Delgado said that the vaccines "reduce the risk of infection by up to 95 per cent and above all makes it milder and even asymptomatic and they are so effective that, eventually, the virus will no longer be a problem.”

But, until that longed-for moment arrives, we will have to continue protecting ourselves as before.