Covid deaths in nursing homes back to pre-vaccines 2nd wave level, expert says
One in five vaccinated nursing home residents who contracted the coronavirus in recent months has died. Professor of geriatric medicine Cees Hertogh calculated this. "We were also surprised by the result," said the professor affiliated with Amsterdam UMC. According to him, the figures emphasize the importance of a booster shot.
Hertogh analyzed data from electronic patient files of 800 coronavirus patients who had become infected between September and mid-November. About half of the group studied, 395 people, was clearly registered as vaccinated against Covid-19. Despite the injections, 22 percent died, the professor confirmed after reporting by NOS. That percentage is roughly the same as last autumn. At that time, no one in the Netherlands had been vaccinated against the virus.
This autumn, the total number of infections in nursing homes was considerably lower than last autumn, during the second wave. In the same system, which is used by one in three nursing homes, over 3,200 infections were registered at the time.
Another significant difference from last year is the emergence of the Delta variant. "It may be more aggressive," said Hertogh. Nursing home residents may be more likely to die from it than previous coronavirus variants. "We also don't know what would have happened if the people whose data we examined had not been vaccinated. It is possible that there would have been even more deaths," he said. Therefore, it is "absolutely impossible to conclude" from the figures that vaccination would not work well for this group. "Unfortunately, we don't have an unvaccinated control group." That makes it difficult to make firm statements.
"We've known from the start that vaccines are not 100 percent effective," said the professor, who is also a member of the Outbreak Management Team. "In nursing home residents, the effectiveness could be slightly lower because some of them have a weakened immune system. And we know the antibodies decrease over time.
An additional injection is necessary to keep vulnerable people well protected. The Netherlands started booster shots months after countries like Israel and the United Kingdom. Hertogh said that there had been no previous signals from the professional field that infections are more often fatal. That has only recently been the case. On the other hand, various foreign countries have concluded that a booster shot is desirable. "But it's always hindsight."