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95 percent of Covid treatment funds have gone to treat unvaccinated people

A COVID-19 department at the North Estonia Medical Center.
A COVID-19 department at the North Estonia Medical Center. Source: North Estonia Medical Center (PERH)

Results of a Health Insurance Fund study show that people unvaccinated against the coronavirus are 4.5 times more likely to end up hospitalized and 2.2 times more likely to die. COVID-19 treatment has cost Estonia €56.6 million since the start of the pandemic, 95 percent of which has gone toward treating unvaccinated people.

The Health Insurance Fund calculated its costs for coronavirus treatment, especially taking into account the amount spent on treating unvaccinated people.

95.1 percent (€53.8 million) of all the funds spent on coronavirus treatment has gone toward treating unvaccinated people. Vaccinations were made available in Estonia in the start of the ongoing year. The €56.6 million for coronavirus treatments is supplemented by another €50 million on personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital beds, vaccination preparation and additional costs.

Since the start of the pandemic, 238,003 have gone to a doctor for help, 94.5 percent of these people have been unvaccinated. 5 percent have required hospitalization, of which 94.7 percent were unvaccinated.

The total cost for treatment per vaccinated person is €170 and €388 for unvaccinated people.

Treatment costs jump significantly if hospitalization is required. The average cost of hospital treatment per vaccinated person is €3,628 and lasts 16 days on average. The average cost of hospital treatment per unvaccinated person is €4,654 and treatment lasts 13 days on average.

The most expensive treatment case in Estonia since the start of the pandemic lasted 156 days and cost €422,370, which does not include outpatient, medication and incapacity costs.

If vaccinations were not available whatsoever, costs would be four times as high. The major difference stems from hospitalization costs, but incapacity costs and other medical treatments would go up considerably. Vaccinations have helped save €13 million in treatments.

The Health Insurance Fund cohort study took pairs with similar backgrounds (age, gender, residence, state of health, including co-morbidities) as a baseline - one of the paired people was vaccinated, the other was not. The comparison showed that unvaccinated people have a 8.5 percent chance of getting infected, the respective rate for vaccinated people is 3.9 percent.

0.42 percent of unvaccinated people required hospitalization (0.12 percent needed intensive care), 0.09 percent of vaccinated people required hospitalization (0.02 percent required intensive care). While the average duration of hospitalization is longer for vaccinated people, the duration of intensive care is longer for unvaccinated people.

1.2 percent of unvaccinated people have died since the start of the pandemic, the rate is 0.5 percent for vaccinated people. This rate includes all causes of death and not just the coronavirus.

Unvaccinated people are more likely to end up hospitalized or dead. Vaccinated people are five times less likely to need hospitalization, six times less likely to need intensive care and more than two times less likely to die.

The Health Insurance Fund study showed that 22 people need to be vaccinated in order to avoid the infection of one person, 153 people need to be vaccinated to avoid one death, 304 people need to be vaccinated to avoid one person getting hospitalized and 1,054 people need to be vaccinated to avoid one person being put on intensive care.

"So truly, each person matters," said Health Insurance Fund analytics expert Kadri Haller-Kikkatalo.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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