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Rising Covid-19 Cases and Hospitalizations: Latest Updates and Vaccination Efforts in Chile

For about a month now, health reports have reported an increase in Covid-19 cases, causing concern in recent days. The numbers doubled in a month and according to the latest update, between November 5 and 11, 4,087 new infections were registered, which makes a daily average of 551 cases.

Consequently, other indicators have also increased, such as bed occupancy. According to the Ministry of Health report, during the last week 26 patients were admitted to a Critical Care Unit due to the virus, and by November 18 there were 351 beds occupied by infected people, which shows an obvious increase when compared to the first weeks of October, when there were 173 beds occupied and about 20 ICU admissions per week.

In context, the head of the Critical Patient Unit at the Indisa Clinic, Sebastián Ugarte, says that “after a period in which Covid-19 cases hospitalized in our service and in the less complex beds practically disappeared, we began to observe a gradual increase in income starting in September of this year. This change translated into the reappearance of critically ill patients with this condition in our ICU.”

According to specialists and existing data, the profile of patients who are still hospitalized is very clear. Most of them are people who have not been vaccinated or who have not completed their vaccination schedule, and have other diseases that cause the risk of generating even more complicated conditions.

Reinaldo Rosas, infectious disease specialist at the Clínica Alemana, points out that the patients they have seen have not actually been vaccinated, or are immunosuppressed people or people with chronic diseases. “We know that the vaccine is less effective in them, so they lose antibodies faster than people with normal defenses. On the other hand, the virus has been mutating and the antibodies from the first vaccines are not as effective against the new variants, which is why it is important to update the vaccination process,” he says.

In this sense, last week the health authorities announced that in the coming days a new focused campaign will begin, since only those over 60 years of age, immunocompromised patients, health professionals and people with chronic diseases will be able to be inoculated with the new monovalent vaccine against the XBB 1.5 strain, the omicron subvariant that is currently the most circulating, a dose that the Institute of Public Health in Chile authorized on November 3. The first shipment – 172,800 doses – with these vaccines has already arrived in Chile.

The Undersecretary of Public Health, Andrea Albagli, stated in this sense that “Chile is going to become the first country in Latin America to have the most up-to-date vaccine available in the world.” However, the authority clarified that the bivalent vaccine used to date continues to provide immunological protection against the virus, which is why those who have completed one year since their last vaccine with this dose and have already received their booster during October or November do not require give them a new dose.

On the other hand, the data shows that the majority of those affected are older adults. According to the investigation by the Undersecretary of Assistance Networks, during October and November 144 people needed intensive care and their average age is 59 years. Likewise, half of them are over 66 years old.

From Clínica Indisa, Ugarte agrees and points out that they have noticed a trend towards older adults with comorbidities. “This demographic appears to be more likely to need more intensive medical care. The incidence of patients with these characteristics has been significant both in our highly complex areas and in those of lower complexity,” he asserts.

However, this increase in infections and hospitalizations has not translated into pressure on care. According to data from Healthcare Networks, until this Thursday the occupancy of adult ICU beds is 88%, of which 3% (24 people) are hospitalized for Covid-19. They also register 37 patients in ICU beds.

“We have had serious patients with Covid-19 since the circulation of the virus began to increase in recent weeks, but obviously it is not the number we had in the pandemic and that is because people were vaccinated,” explains Rosas from the German Clinic. .

2023-11-23 23:24:55
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