Covid-19 patients now 11 years younger than during second wave
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Covid-19 patients now 11 years younger than during second wave

Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke visits a hospital with Covid-19 patients. Credit: Belga

The average Covid-19 patient admitted to a hospital in Belgium now is 11 years younger than those hospitalised in the second wave, health officials stated during a press conference on Friday.

Half of all patients currently hospitalised with Covid-19 are under the age of 66, compared to the median age of 77 in December, according to figures presented by virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

“This relative younger age also means that the percentage of patients with underlying conditions has decreased,” Van Gucht said.

“In March, 36% suffered from hypertension, 26% from cardiovascular disease and 19% from diabetes,” he added. “The percentage of patients with obesity, on the other hand, increased remarkably to 15%.”

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According to Van Gucht, this decrease in age is undoubtedly (partly) due to the vaccination of the elderly in residential care centres.

“Hardly any residents from nursing homes are admitted anymore because they are all protected by the vaccine,” he said, adding that the British variant may also play a role.

Some studies show that this variant causes more illness in younger people, although this has yet to be confirmed, according to Van Gucht.

“At the moment, mainly people in their sixties and seventies are most represented in the admissions, but people in their forties and fifties are also regularly admitted,” he said.

Due to the younger ages of the hospital patients, the overall percentage of patients dying in hospital has fallen compared to the second wave. “In December it was 21%, in February 16% and in March 14%.”

Additionally, as reported by several hospitals, proportionally more people need to be admitted to the intensive care units than during the previous waves.

Currently, 26% of patients are in intensive care, creating a heavier burden on intensive care than some time ago. “That was one of the important reasons why stricter measures were absolutely necessary,” Van Gucht stressed.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times