ICU capacity for Covid patients three times higher than first wave: Association
The intensive care units in Dutch hospitals can currently accommodate three times more coronavirus patients than they could in March, according to Diederik Gommers of the Dutch association for intensive care NVIC. This is because the time Covid-19 patients spend in ICU has been drastically reduced, he said to AD.
"We are still conducting further research into it, but it looks like it," Gommers said. "Of course we don't know if there will be a second wave and how big it will be, but if it is comparable to the first, we need to expand the ICUs much less."
According to figures from the national ICU evaluation foundation NICE, coronavirus patients in March and April spent an average of 22 days in ICU. By July and August, that decreased to less than 8 days in intensive care on average.
"We are still investigating exactly why that is," Gommers said. "It may be that in March and April more people with underlying diseases ended up [in ICU] and today's patients are less ill." But if the two groups turn out to be comparable, the shorter ICU stays likely have to do with improved treatment of Covid-19. "It's not that the virus has gotten milder, at least we don't have any evidence of that."
Currently there are about 600 people in ICU in the Dutch hospitals, including less than 50 with the coronavirus. In April, ICUs were treating around 1,400 people with coronavirus and 350 people with other health problems. According to Gommers, ICU stays being two thirds shorter may mean that the Netherlands' usual 1,200 ICU beds are sufficient for a second wave.