Doctor Çelik, we talk regularly about your work as a senior physician in the isolation ward for Covid 19 patients at the Darmstadt Clinic. How is the situation?
We look with great concern to our neighboring federal states, where the increasing incidence means that more patients are coming to hospitals. This is already the case here in Hesse, albeit at a lower level. We will expand our station from Monday. We don’t want to wait again to have our backs to the wall. Until then, we will stay afloat with transfers to smaller hospitals. In view of the current situation, we have no illusions that more beds will not be necessary again soon. That also means: Another medical area has to reduce its capacities. All interventions that can be postponed will be postponed so that we can release staff for the Covid supply.
The focus is still on the unvaccinated. How big is their share in the patient?
In the fourth wave, 72 percent of our patients had not been vaccinated so far. For the vaccinated on our ward, the following applies: A severe Covid course was rare, it only happened in ten percent of the cases. That is an order of magnitude that we expected and that can also be statistically explained. When a large group of people are vaccinated with a 90 percent effective vaccine, some of them will need hospital care. And the missing 10 percent become real cases on the ward due to the size of the group of vaccinated people. For me, the decisive factor is whether vaccine breakthroughs that are difficult to proceed increase beyond what is statistically expected, and that is not the case.
Can the booster vaccination become a game changer for these patients?
Yes. These ten percent who have a severely symptomatic vaccination breakthrough are either vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson, very old or suffer from underlying immunodeficiency diseases. You can expect the greatest effect from the booster vaccination. But younger people also benefit from it: The third vaccination no longer has to be seen as a booster, but as an elementary part of the vaccination series, which includes not two, but three vaccinations for the best vaccination protection.
Did you have recoveries on the ward that you had to treat a second time?
We actually had a case that week. The patient has a complicated blood cancer. When he was infected for the first time, the vaccination was not yet available. Although he has now been vaccinated in addition to recovery, his immune protection was insufficient. After all, it only has a mild course and does not require any additional oxygen. It is precisely this very vulnerable group that needs to be protected with a low-incidence strategy. If we were all vaccinated, people who are unable to protect themselves would also benefit.
Is it still negligence that keeps many from vaccinating, or are you treating more and more people who are not vaccinated?