Increase in COVID Admissions, But Infections Much Milder

Iceland National Hospital COVID-19

As many as 150 new cases of COVID-19 are being diagnosed every day in Iceland and the number of patients admitted to the hospital for COVID infection is also rising incrementally, RÚV reports. While there are a considerable number infections all throughout Iceland, however, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason says that fortunately, these cases are much, much milder amongst those who are vaccinated.

Fortunate as well, says Þórólfur, is that the stress on Iceland’s health system is not nearly what it was at the height of the pandemic, when there were 88 patients in the COVID ward at once. There were only two people in Landspítali’s COVID ward at the start of May, which increased to nine patients on Thursday, and 16 on Friday. Admissions are mostly elderly patients and those with underlying conditions, but as the infections are not as acute, none of those currently in the hospital are on ventilators.

“There’s no doubt about it, of course we would have liked for the vaccine to prevent infection,” Þórólfur remarked. “It doesn’t do that, but what it does do, first and foremost, is prevent serious illness. If we didn’t have this widespread vaccination, particularly amongst older age groups, I think we’d have much worse infections and more people in the hospital.”

National Hospital Receives Donation of 15 ICU Ventilators

landspitali national university hospital iceland

Benefactors from the United States sent a shipment of 15 ICU ventilators to Iceland’s National and University Hospital, RÚV reports. The machines arrived in a cargo plane on Friday. The benefactors chose to remain anonymous, but RÚV’s sources indicate they are a group with special ties to Iceland.

This is a significant gift as hospital staff attempts to secure protective gear and life-saving medical equipment; before the arrival of the new ventilators, Iceland only had 26 such devices, some of which are likely in use and many of which had been scheduled for replacement prior to the COVID-19 epidemic. “These are machines that will last, but they may require more maintenance than the new ones,” Chief of Diagnostic and Support Services Jón Hilmar Friðriksson remarked of the older ventilators in an interview.

The hospital also has other ventilators that are not as powerful but may help some patients who aren’t experiencing as much difficulty breathing, says Jón Hilmar, as well as some anaesthesia machines that can be converted into ventilators. The hospital hopes to acquire more ventilators as soon as possible. “We believe that we’ll hopefully have 40 to 50 ventilators very soon,” said Jón Hilmar. “We’re in discussions and have all our feelers out.”

Outbreak forecasts in Iceland project that there will be an increasing need for ventilators in the near future. Based on a prediction model created by scientists at the University of Iceland, the Directorate of Health, and the National Hospital, it seems likely that the epidemic will peak in Iceland in mid-April. The most pessimistic outcomes predict that as many as 200 patients will need to be hospitalised and roughly 50 will require intensive care and access to ventilators.

Luckily, Iceland is not experiencing a shortage of medicines or protective gear, but Jón Hilmar says they are still looking to increase supplies as it is difficult to predict what the demand for these will be in the coming months.