Vienna sees 60 percent increase in ICU admissions in one week

Talk of Austria’s ‘fourth wave’ of the pandemic appears to be no longer theoretical, with ICU admissions on the rise.

Vienna sees 60 percent increase in ICU admissions in one week
ICU (intensive care unit) admissions are on the rise in Austria. Photo by MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

ICU admissions climbed by 60 percent in Vienna in one week to Sunday, September 5th. 

55 intensive care beds were being used on Sunday for Covid-related illnesses, an increase from the 34 beds in use just seven days before. 

Ten new ICU admissions were made on Sunday alone, the Vienna Health Agency said on Sunday. 

At this stage however, authorities say the situation is not critical, with enough beds available to absorb further increases. 

In total, 36 percent of the ICU beds across Austria remain free. 

When the number of ICU patients in Austria hits 150, non essential operations will be postponed, thereby freeing up more space. 

READ MORE: Is Austria’s plan for vaccinated-only bars, gyms and restaurants legal?

Much of the rest of the country has also seen sharp increases in ICU admissions, with 43 people admitted across the country this week. 

The vast majority of those admitted have not been immunised. 

While figures from September 6th are not yet available across the country, Upper Austria provides an indication of the impact of immunisation. 

READ MORE: How to get vaccinated without an appointment in your Austrian state

In Upper Austria, 25 of the 28 admissions to the ICU for Covid-related illnesses were not vaccinated. 

In the same state, 52 of the 68 people admitted to hospital for Covid-related illnesses were also not vaccinated. 

Up to date figures on hospital admissions, Covid cases and vaccination rates can be found at this link

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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.