Many serious cases of COVID-19 could be prevented if people just got vaccinated, chief of medicine at the North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) and scientific council member Peep Talving told ERR on Thursday evening.
At a time when more and more coronavirus patients require hospital treatment, some even intensive care, people should understand that these cases would not happen if they got vaccinated, Talving said on interview show "Esimene stuudio".
"The vaccine gives great protection. The effects will drop some after six months, people can still get infected, but if we look at hospitalizations and deaths, the vaccine has an effect," the hospital chief said.
Talving noted that only one vaccinated person has required intensive care at PERH and that was for a short time.
"We have had 17 people in intensive care during the third wave, one was vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine six months ago. Their disease progression was very light, they were intubated for two days and are on oxygen therapy now. Unvaccinated people have had serious cases and have been in intensive care for a long time," the chief of medicine said.
He added that the number of unvaccinated people in Estonia remains high enough that hospitalization numbers may reach the peak of the second wave in the spring of this year - 727.
"This illness finds every unvaccinated person. They are enough to burden the healthcare system for a very long time," Talving said.
Hospital beds being added constantly
Talving said there are 160 coronavirus beds currently in the 10 hospitals of the northern medical unit and the capacity is at 80 percent. At a meeting on Wednesday, a decision was made to create 100 more hospital beds for coronavirus patients. This comes at a further cost to scheduled treatments, however.
The current scheduled treatment deficit from the second wave of COVID-19 stands at 21,600 cases. Talving estimated that the deficit can grow to 45,000 treatments by the end of the year if scheduled treatments are limited again.
Aside from hospital beds, the shortage of nurses is an even greater problem. "If we take any random hospital, I can say about 10 percent of their jobs are unfilled. Starting to increase pandemic treatment in the light of this is especially sad, because pandemic treatment requires more nurses," Talving said.
"During the second wave, when the country was closed, people came to help. But now with the country open, all sectors are operating, I do not predict there being as many nurses from the pharmaceutical industry or else," the hospital chief said.
He noted that the government's scientific council has not been given a task to analyze the necessity of new restrictions, but the council might still discuss new restrictions on Monday.
"It is a very critical week to 10 days currently. If hospital beds escalate, more restrictions need to be implemented. There is unfortunately no other way," Talving said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste