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The average age of patients who die from coronavirus in intensive care units drops

The intensive care unit at the Hospital Clínico in Malaga.
The intensive care unit at the Hospital Clínico in Malaga. / SUR
  • Covid patients in ICUs in Malaga were either not vaccinated or infected shortly before or after receiving the vaccine

The coronavirus vaccination campaign has significantly reduced the number of deaths, but despite this, there are still people who die from an infection caused by SARS-CoV-2. At the moment, the average age of patients who die from Covid in the intensive care units (ICUs) of Malaga hospitals is aroud 50, according to the medical director and head of the ICU of the Clínico Hopsital, María Antonia Estecha.

She told SUR that coronavirus deaths occur in patients who were either not vaccinated or who had a single dose and were infected shortly before or shortly after receiving the injection, so the vaccine had not developed immunity.

A characteristic fact of the fourth wave of the pandemic is that the age of the patients who die from a SARS-CoV-2 infection has decreased, something that did not happen in the three previous pandemic waves. This reduction is directly related to the vaccine roll-out, since practically all older people are fully vaccinated.

Dr Estecha said that the Covid patients admitted to intensive care units are younger than those who were treated before the arrival of vaccinations and are around 50 years old. They are patients who are either not vaccinated or who have only received one dose. The infections occurred one or two days before receiving the vaccine, when the symptoms of the disease had not yet appeared, or in the days immediately after the injection, before the vaccine had time to begin to generate immunity against the virus.

The unvaccinated who end up in an intensive care are usually between 40 and 45 years old, although there are also those in their thirties, said the medical director of the Clínico and head of the ICU. She said the worst outcomes were in patients who need to be intubated.

"The deceased are usually people who are on prolonged mechanical ventilation and who have not been able to overcome the severity of their infection."

Another aspect that differentiates the fourth wave from the previous ones is that the number of people in ICUs is much lower. Since the start of the pandemic, the hospital has treated some 300 Covid patients.

On Friday, of the 12 patients admitted to an ICU in Malaga province, six were in the Clínico. The oldest was a 65-year-old who was infected after being vaccinated in April with their first dose of AstraZeneca, but had not yet received the second injection. In contrast, the youngest patient was 35 years old. The others were 45 and 55. The average stay in the ICU, although it has decreased compared to the three previous waves of the pandemic, is still high and is around one month.

Although young people are less at risk if they are infected, if they get Covid complications, they can still end up in intensive care, said María Antonia Estecha.

The specialist stressed that, despite the fact that the evolution of twenty-somethings affected by the coronavirus is more benign, we will have to see what happens if there is an increase in infections among young people who go to parties and meetings where social-distancing and mask-wearing rules are not respected.