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Byron Shire
February 27, 2024

Unvaccinated? You’re up to 17.5 times more likely to end up in ICU

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Patient in hospital with COVID-19. Photo Pordee Aomboom/Shutterstock

Before the latest free for all approach to the management of the COVID-19 virus a big part of the conversation was about flattening the curve; that is keeping admissions to hospital low to ensure that the health system wasn’t overwhelmed.

A key part of the strategy was encouraging vaccination because if you are vaccinated it is scientifically proven that you are less likely to get seriously ill and end up in hospital if infected with the COVID-19 virus. As of 2 January 2022, 91.6 per cent of the NSW population 12 and over were fully vaccinated according to NSW Health’s COVID-19 Monitor.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital at 2 January were 1,204 with 29.9 per cent unvaccinated and 67.4 per cent vaccinated.

‘While the number of vaccinated people hospitalised is greater than those unvaccinated, this is because we have such a high vaccination rate (91.6 per cent), local Byron Shire GP Dr Joel Hissink told The Echo.

‘It is more informative to consider the difference in hospitalisation/ICU rates as follows (per one million people): The hospital rate among unvaccinated / fully vaccinated population (aged 12+) is (at 2 January) 578.2 / 83.4. The ICU rate among unvaccinated / fully vaccinated population (aged 12+) is 82.5 / 4.7 (COVID Monitor 2 January).

‘This translates to unvaccinated people being seven times more likely to require hospitalisation for COVID and 17.5 times more likely to require admission to ICU at this point in time,’ he said.

Vaccination reduced the risk of hospitalisation with COVID-19. Photo Shutterstock

No vaccine perfect

‘Of course if we had a 100 per cent vaccination rate then 100 per cent of hospitalisations and ICU admissions would be of vaccinated patients. There are a few reasons for this. One is that no vaccine cover is perfect. The COVID vaccines have quite good efficacy, around 70–80 per cent early on, influenza vaccine efficacy is around 30–60 per cent, while measles vaccine efficacy is 99 per cent.

‘Other reasons for vaccinated people still requiring hospitalisation are that some people may not develop an adequate immune response to the vaccine because of immunosuppression thus remain vulnerable to the disease. Their immunosuppression may be due to them receiving life-saving treatment for cancer or other comorbidities. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to aim for a high vaccination rate, in order to reduce the spread of disease to protect those in our community who do everything they can to stay safe, including getting themselves vaccinated, but still remain at high risk of the disease.’

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In the Northern Rivers we are continuing to see an increase in infections of COVID with another 1,154 cases reported to 8pm, 9 January. This is having a significant impact on the health systems ability to respond and businesses being able to open and operate as people are being required to isolate and test to help reduce infection transmission.

‘Continuing to apply and adhere to public health measures is critical to minimising case numbers to reduce the pressure on our health services and the impact on delivery of routine and life-saving medical and surgical services for non-COVID related medical conditions,’ Dr Hissink told The Echo.

‘Each of us doing everything we can to help reduce the spread of COVID disease is also critical to support our local community organisations and businesses to continue to operate. Yes, some public health measures impact businesses and they also limit our ability to do the things that we want to do but as is clearly the case right now, the widespread burden of COVID disease is severely impacting many businesses, causing death and disability and pressuring an already fragile health system.’

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  1. This reports a higher rate per million of cases going into ICU on unvaccinated individuals probably because of the whole point of some people not being able to vaccinate – the immunocompromised. Using that statistic is very misleading.

    • Very few people are unable to be vaccinated. I don’t know that being immune compromised is one of the contra indications. In fact I think this group would be more likely to be vaxxed!

    • You are just attempting to play with stats. Pro rata of the population – the unvaxed 10% of our population are are causing 50% of ICU cases, while pro rata – the 10% of the (90 %) vaxed population are causing 5% of ICU cases. You can play with the numbers all you like, but you are just denying the facts, and denying that a number of vaxed people have saved their own lives by being vaxed. Two Byron residents have died who were unvaxed. You need to question whether they would still be alive if they hadn’t been influenced by your ongoing attempted clouding of the facts. This is a new disease, some peoples natural immunity wont save them – check out the statistics of the tens of thousands of deaths amongst Aboriginals when they were first exposed to new diseases like measles and mumps, despite being extremely fit an healthy with strong bones, no teeth cavities and on a healthy natural diet of 100s of food sources. How many over represented deaths from the unvaxinated will it take for you to accept the increased risk from being not vaccinated?

  2. Could someone please tell Hans? He seems to be getting his medical information from right-wing American podcasters and not qualified local sources.

  3. or if you count those in ICU, if you have been jabbed there’s a chance you will be one of the 67% of ICU patients who are jabbed.

    Seriously echo, you can paint numbers in all sorts of ways if you are trying to scare or comfort people.

    reality will eventually catch up…….

    • It’s around 50% Steve – 50% contributed by a group that represent around 8.5% of the population.

      Adding an extra 17 is “painting the numbers”. Quoting the raw numbers of 50/50 without considering that over 90% of the population are vaccinated is “painting the numbers”.

      The article is just simple (rather than simplistic) maths so don’t worry if you read it again carefully you might see the point.

      • 9 out of the latest 11 covid deaths reported today by NSW health were jabbed individuals unfortunately.

        I’m sure there’s a simple maths explanation to that one as well given the point of the jabs was to reduce severe illness and death.

        • Sure – 10 of the deaths were in the 80+ group who are close to 100% vaccinated. The 70s group isn’t quite that high but then there was only one of those and two unvaccinated. 🤔

          Always pays to look more deeply.

          After the Echo published a similar explanation there were many troubled by the maths.

          NK posted: “ September 27, 2021 At 1:21 pm
          My 9 year old (Year 4) is learning this level of maths. She understands this article and the analogies.”

          NK, if you’re still there, could you ask your daughter to give us a simple explanation.

  4. We are heading towards a situation where our ICUs are overwhelmed, and people miss out on treatment.

    So we need our political leaders to develop ICU triage protocols, with us, so our frontline health workers are not further burdened with this responsibility.

    I have asked my MP to get involved with this, but she refuses and runs away from my questions about whether she supports unvaccinated-by-choice people being treated in ICU while vaccinated people die in hospital hallways and carparks unattended to by trained ICU staff.

    And that is the big question we need to grapple with – whether those unvaccinated by choice can access ICU treatment while vaccinated people miss out, and whether we are happy to continue the situation where we as vaccinated citizens might die of covid because an unvaccinated-by-choice person got saved instead.

    Before it can become too late.

    • It’s not going to happen, Shane – the vaxxed and unvaxxed will be treated equally. The unvaxxed however could do the right thing and sign an advanced care directive that they don’t want to be admitted to IC for treatment for Covid 19.

      • Well do the unjabbed get their Medicare back? Do smokers and drinkers have to sign it too? What about people who undertake risky activities, like contact sport or extreme sports?

        • Do you get your Medicare back? If you want to forego all medical treatment for anything. Otherwise perhaps you could just be charged a bit more. Smokers and drinkers at least contribute to the increased burden they place on the health budget through the large excises on alcohol and tobacco.

          And where do you draw the line with a risky activity?

          In normal, non pandemic times, there are usually enough IC resources to go around without having to cancel all elective surgery or make decisions about which desperately ill people get a ventilator and/or bed and who is left to die. It’s the fact that we are presently looking at such a crisis in health care, created by a pandemic, that the consequences of choice become such a stark ethical dilemma.

          I seem to recall that the same people so sure the vaccines make no difference, are generally the ones who see/saw the whole virus thingy as a hoax. If they are so confident they shouldn’t be worried about refusing treatment for it ever becoming an issue.

        • People who say “it’s not going to happen” are campaigning for it to not happen.

          Like those who said stopping drink driving won’t happen, those who said stopping csg mining won’t happen, those who said making smokers go outside the hospital won’t happen, etc, etc

        • Wollumbin rising society should discuss all of those issues, and more.

          But right now there is one that should be discussed, before it stops being an abstract issue and law and order, and peace, are threatened

      • People who say “it’s not going to happen” are campaigning for it to not happen.

        Like those who said stopping drink driving won’t happen, those who said stopping csg mining won’t happen, those who said making smokers go outside the hospital won’t happen, etc, etc

  5. In order to help explain the way the data above that is causing so much confusion, please allow me to put this analogy to you using hypothetical car accident deaths data as follows.

    Total people involved in car accidents: 1,600
    Number of people wearing seatbelts: 1,500
    Number of people not wearing seatbelts: 100
    Total deaths in that population: 25
    Number of people wearing seatbelts who died: 15
    Number of people not wearing seatbelts who died: 10

    Looking at that data please answer these questions:
    i) What is the percentage chance of death from a car accident if wearing a seatbelt?
    ii) What is the percentage chance of death from a car accident if not wearing a seatbelt?
    iii) What are the ratios of the two results above?
    iv) Is there a less or greater chance of dying in a car accident if wearing a seatbelt?

    Clearly, wearing a seatbelt won’t stop a car accident from occurring. Indeed, it might even elicit risky behaviour behind the wheel. However, it does afford greater protection in the event of an accident even though the actual number of deaths when wearing a seatbelt is greater than when not in my hypothetical scenario.

    I encourage everyone to think of the COVID-19 vaccine as a seatbelt in the analogy above. 🙂

  6. Gregory Olsen is spot on.

    It’s simple.
    As of Jan 15th there were;

    4.8% of the population above 16 are UNVACCINATED in NSW. (NSW health)

    NSW Health said from December 16 to January 4;
    62 per cent of ICU patients were NOT VACCINATED (NSW HEALTH)

    With only 4.8% of the population the unvaccinated made up 62% of the beds in ICU.

    See why you can’t just quote % ?
    YOU have to look at what is behind the Stats.

    Think it it’s obvious what is happening here.

    UNVACCINATED people are over represented in Hospitals and ICU’s
    while DOUBLE VACCINATED are under represented.

    Hundreds of UNVACCINATED people are expected to die in ICU’s, and in their homes from COVID in NSW in 2022.

    Are you going to be one of them?

  7. Jesus Christ is the answer to this crisis.
    “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved ” He offers peace in this life and eternal life and joy in the next! Blessings


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