Netherlands could get 37,500 more Covid-19 patients in ICU by 2023
The ICU capacity in the Netherlands needs to increase from 1,150 beds to 1,531 beds over the course of the next three years to cope with an expected inflow of up to 37,500 Covid-19 patients, public health experts warned in a letter on Sunday. In order for the healthcare system to be able to cope with the anticipated number of Covid-19 patients in the coming years, current ICU capacity needs to be increased on a structural level, and adjusted seasonally, according to a joint report by the Dutch Association for Intensive Care (NVIC), the National Coordination Center for Patient Distribution (LCPS) and public health agency RIVM.
"If the measures are released in phases," NVIC chairman Diederik Gommers explains in the letter, "it is expected that in the summer months we will be limited to, for example, 300 Covid-19 patients at the ICU in the Netherlands and that this number will increase again in the autumn."
Gommers adds that the summer months would best be spent by raising ICU capacity while the strain on the system is lower, with Covid-19 cases in ICU having already dropped by 39 percent in the last three weeks. "The expectation now is that we will take it easy this summer and that we should use this time to tackle an important task as soon as possible," he wrote.
The joint report hinges on several assumptions. First, that spread of the disease will slow to a crawl if 60 percent of the population becomes infected, and second that 0.45 percent of infected people over the age of 20 will become patients in an intensive care unit. Such a scenario would mean that 37,500 patients will require an ICU bed over the course of the next three years, creating a constant need for 639 ICU beds on any given day.
The potential for the release of a vaccine in the meantime was not factored in to the calculation.
You have to realize that there are of course many assumptions in this calculation," Gommers adds, pointing out that "it may also be the case that the average is of little use".
Gommers went on to express his disappointment toward the Dutch government for not distributing Covid-19 patients more evenly across the Netherlands. He asserts that there is "absolutely no equal spread" of Covid-19 patients, and that is "frustrating" to him as a result. Over the weekend, Ernst Kuipers, chair of the Dutch acute care network, also asked regional health officials whose hospitals are overwhelmed to take advantage of the system in place to send some patients to other facilities in the country.
Gommers added that the lack of patients being spread across the country "emphasizes the importance of cooperation within the region, but also beyond."