Covid hospitalisations in Austria double in a fortnight

Covid-related hospitalisations have doubled in Austria over the past fortnight, with primarily those who have not been vaccinated being admitted.

Covid hospitalisations in Austria double in a fortnight
Two children are in Austrian hospitals after suspected 'mysterious' hepatitis cases Photo by SJ Objio on Unsplash

While the growth in new infections with Covid-19 is weakening, the number of people in hospitals in Austria with the virus has more than doubled in two weeks according to the Wiener Zeitung newspaper.

On Monday, August 24th, 373 infected people were in the hospital with Covid-related illness.

77 of them in the intensive care unit, an increase of 52 people from August 5th, meaning three times as many patients are in the ICU as there were are the start of the month. 

While there is no uniform data showing whether people admitted to hospital across Austria have been vaccinated, state-level information shows a much higher proportion of hospitalisations among the unvaccinated. 

According to authorities the state of Vienna, unvaccinated patients suffering from Covid-19 make up 75 percent of those in intensive care, and 85 percent of patients in its normal hospital wards.

40 percent of those in intensive care in Vienna are under the age of 50.

This represents a shift in Austria for summer 2021. Previously, while confirmed case numbers have been increasing, hospitalisation and death rates remained relatively stable. 

Hospitalisations are far lower than at the height of the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak last November, when around 4,000 people were in hospital and around 680 were in the intensive care units. 

Austrian authorities have warned things are likely to get worse in the coming weeks and have called upon people to get vaccinated. 

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What to know about Austria’s new advice on Covid vaccines

As the coronavirus pandemic progressed, each country developed its own vaccination recommendation, which often changed. Here is the new advice from the Austrian vaccination panel.

What to know about Austria's new advice on Covid vaccines

The Austrian National Vaccination Panel has updated its recommendations on Covid vaccination on several points, the Ministry of Health announced.

“Special attention continues to be paid to the completion of the basic immunisation, which is recommended for all persons five years of age and older, and to the booster vaccination,” according to the Ministry of Health.

The booster shot is generally available to all persons 12 years of age and older and is free of charge, but it is especially recommended for persons 60 years of age and older and those at risk.

READ ALSO: Masks against Covid and flu: What’s ahead for Austria this winter

In Austria, the basic immunisation against Covid-19 consists of three vaccine doses. A fourth dose, also known as a booster shot, is also recommended.

What is new in the recommendation?

Austria is adding a new coronavirus vaccine, from Sanofi (VidPrevtyn Beta), to the list of offers against the virus. The new vaccine is protein-based and has already been approved by the European authorities. 

In Austria, the Sanofi vaccine can be used from the third vaccination onwards on people older than 18. The offer will be available at the vaccination sites in the coming week at the earliest, according to the Ministry. 

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

Another change is that the variant Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 from BioNTech/Pfizer will also be used for the third vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years. 

This vaccine is specially adapted to the virus variants Omicron BA.4 and 5. It is now available for children in a special application shot that should be in vaccination sites starting next week at the earliest. 

READ ALSO: What to expect from the ski season in Austria this winter

Also included in the recommendations is a clarification specifically on an additional booster vaccination (fifth vaccination). 

People at risk from the age of 18, and those from the age of 60 can receive the additional booster vaccination four months after the fourth vaccination. According to the vaccination panel, no fifth vaccination is necessary for healthy people under 60.