Bonn/Düsseldorf/Berlin · Intensive care units at the Bonn University Hospital were full as ofThursday. A few German statesarehaving to transfertheirpatients out ofstate as theirhospitalsare full. Meanwhile, the EuropeanMedicinesAgency (Ema) has given the green light for the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine for children five years and older.
The increase in new coronavirus infections continues unchecked. The situation in hospitalsis coming to a head: At the University Hospital in Bonn (UKB), not a single intensive care bed was free on Thursday. Currently, 27 patients confirmed to have Covid-19 are being treated there, eleven of them in intensive care, eight of them on ventilators. Nine of the ICU patients are unvaccinated, according to UKB. "It is difficult to predic thow the numbers will develop," says Professor Wolfgang Holzgreve, medical director and chairman of the board of the university hospital. Because of the high severity of the current cases, fewer operations could be canceled than at other hospitals. In all of Bonn, four intensive carebeds were still available in the early evening, according to the Divi-Intensivregister. The university hospital has 120 intensive carebeds, in Bonn thereare a total of 227.
Bavaria, Thuringia and Saxony are already preparing to transfer 54 Covid ICU patients to other states because their ICUs are full. In addition to the northern German states, NRW also agreed to accept patients. But here, too, the pressure is growing. The University Hospital Düsseldorf explained, "Like other Düsseldorf hospitals, we only ever have a few beds available.”
The head of the German Hospital Association, Gerald Gaß, warned, "Germany is testing the limits of its health caresystem, with 75 percent of all hospital facilities with intensive careunitsreporting limited operations." As a result, many patients who do not have Covid are suffering. "We can no longer care for almost one in three patients in the regular system. We will perform about 20 percent fewer coloncancer surgeries and about seven percent fewer surgeries for women with breastcancer," Gaß said. Emergency care for heart attack and stroke patients will be severely limited by longer traveltimes to distant hospitals, he said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is concerned, saying care must be taken not to overburden hospitals. "Every dayc ounts here," she said. "The situation is so serious because we are in an exponential growth.”
By far the largest proportion of Covid patients in intensive careunits have not been vaccinated, hospitals in Essen and Cologne said. Now, on behalf of the coalition parties, the Federal Ministry of Health is preparing a vaccination requirement for occupational groups: "For people who want to work in a hospital, in inpatientcarefacilities, in places offering integration assistance or in outpatientcareservices, it is planned that they will either have to be vaccinated or recovered starting January 1, 2022,” the draft resolution states. For those currently employed, a transition period is provided until the end of March 2022. Employees will not be forced to get a vaccination but they could face fines, an employment banor a ban on entering the country.
In a conference with Chancelleryhead Helge Braun (CDU) with his state colleagues, there has been a dispute about tougher measures. Braun is said to have put pressure on the coalitionparties SPD, Greens and FDP in a conferencecall. He was quoted as saying, "We need an emergencybrake now." According to the report, Braun demanded, "Either the coalition makes a law or we need a conference of state premiers to decide on a clear emergency brake.”
Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (Ema) has given the green light for approval of Biontech/Pfizer's Covid vaccine for children five years and older. The Ema made the announcement on Thursday. It will be the first Covid-19 vaccine approved in the EU for children under the age of 12. Children five years and older are to receive only one-third of the adult dose of the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine and two doses three weeks apart. The EMA stressed that the vaccine is safe and effective according to studies. So far, no serious side effects have been observed.
(Orig. text: Jan Drebes, Antje Höning;Translation: ck)