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06 December, 2021
 
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Vax message clear but data all over the place

Cypriot health officials say ICU patients regret not getting vaccinated as experts seek clearer info

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Health officials have been trying to paint the big picture in Covid hospitalizations this week saying the virus was striking people under 50 who were unvaccinated, but by Friday morning meaningful information on hospital cases was still in short supply.

The Cypriot health ministry announced on Thursday 3 deaths attributed to the coronavirus and 580 new cases detected out of a total of 36,141 rapid and PCR tests, with the positivity rate standing at 1.60%.

According to official figures, there were 293 infected persons in state hospitals, with the total number reflecting all patients from primary all the way to emergency care. The number of unvaccinated patients was 263, with 96 of total hospitalizations described as serious cases - 45 intubated, 5 in emergency care, and 46 in specialty care.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela repeated a call to young adults to get vaccinated, noting that unvaccinated young people who had families with small children were currently in Intensive Care.

Hadjipantela used the examples of three men getting ICU treatment, including a 46-year-old male with four young children, another 42-year-old father of two, and a 40-year-old with four children.

They call us up and say do whatever you can

"These people are right there fighting in Intensive Care while their families in the background are upset,” Hadjipantela said, adding that “they call us up and say do whatever you can, we are losing our loved ones and they are young people, they have children, siblings, relatives, you have to do something.”

The minister said hospital medics were doing everything possible but added “there is a proven way to avoid getting to this point, and that is vaccination.”

No specific medical details were given about the three patients or any serious cases regarding their condition, such as blood oxygen levels, non-invasive ventilation, or specifically which patients were intubated. Information on recovered patients was also scarce.

But the spokesperson for State Health Services Organization, Charalambos Charilaou, said 14 out of 50 patients in Intensive Care were under the age of 50 while also suggesting those were unvaccinated.

“The virus makes no exceptions,” Charilaou said on state radio Friday morning.

Officials this week have been reporting that the age average in COVID patients had dropped due to younger people being hospitalized, with total unvaccinated hospitalizations reaching almost 90%, but according to Philenews, which had been tracking official data, the average age of patients was actually going up.

Philenews had reported late last month that half of hospitalized elderly patients were vaccinated and the other half had no vaccination history during at least two periods in July.

'They are all deniers until they walk through the hospital doors with low oxygen, and at that time everything changes'

On Friday, Philenews came back with fresh data saying the average age in hospitalized patients for all ages and groups had climbed to 59 this week. It was 53.5 on July 5 and 56.7 on July 25, according to the story, citing an increase in older patients 71 and up, who numbered 12 on July 5, 52 on July 25, and 69 on August 3.

Official figures for the period between June 1 and July 26 recorded 48 deaths, 11 of whom involved vaccinated elderly patients - 9 doubly jabbed and 2 had a single dose, while from 1 through 20 July, 6 out of 18 deaths had been vaccinated patients in that age group, Philenews said.

Asked to shed light on the news report, Charilaou said “we see that there were some deaths in the last two months.”

“We had a rise in deaths in the last two weeks,” Charilaou later clarified.

Some health experts have called for more data in order to ascertain whether a third booster shot would be needed especially for the elderly who got vaccinated back as early as January.

But another health expert, pneumonologist Charis Armeftis, argued it was still true that “five out of 100 vaccinated persons can fall seriously ill.”

Armeftis, who also spoke on state radio, went beyond numbers to paint a disturbing image.

The pneumonologist said the problem was as much with people who choose to remain unvaccinated as with some colleagues who advise their patients not to get vaccinated.

“They are all deniers until they walk through the hospital doors with low oxygen, and at that time everything changes,” Armeftis said.

The doctor went on to say that medical advice against vaccination from some doctors was not based on science and called on officials to take actions against those medical professionals.

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