Covid-19: Wellington ICU leader’s modelling shows huge bed shortfall with 90 per cent vaccine rate

The model of a director of the intensive care unit in Wellington shows that a vaccination rate of 99.9 percent is required if the region is to handle a delta outbreak while caring for other patients in the intensive care unit.

The model developed by Dr. Alex Psirides, co-director of Wellington Intensive Care Unit, written and sent to the government in late August, also suggests that 69 extra beds would be needed in Wellington alone if an outbreak lasted six months and other care ceases.

“It is effectively the whole population (who need vaccination). Therefore, every time you point a television camera at an intensive care doctor, we simply ask you to get vaccinated, because even small numbers of vaccinations have a big effect. “

The situation has changed dramatically since August when Delta was circulating in Auckland and Covid-19 Response Secretary Chris Hipkins said this week that the outbreak could no longer be contained and would inevitably spread across the country. Psirides said his modeling at this point was intended to identify risks and could be adjusted as infection and vaccination rates change.

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* Covid-19 NZ: Ashley Bloomfield’s key number explained

Modeling by Dr.  Alex Psirides, co-director of Wellington ICU in late August, showed that 69 additional ICU beds would be required for the region to handle a six-month Delta outbreak with a vaccination rate of 90 percent.

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Modeling by Dr. Alex Psirides, co-director of Wellington ICU in late August, showed that 69 additional ICU beds would be required for the region to handle a six-month Delta outbreak with a vaccination rate of 90 percent.

This is because 84 people are hospitalized with Covid-19, including 10 in the intensive care unit or HDU, and the average number of cases is 161 per day.

Analysis of Things shows that any health department would need more intensive care beds if vaccination rates dropped 90 percent, from 86 in Waitemata to 5 on the west coast. Hutt Valley would need 21 additional beds in the intensive care unit. It has four.

Even if the other care was suspended in the intensive care unit – the required vaccination rate was still 99.2 percent. But that doesn’t mean that Psirides is committed to the 99 percent goal – that would be unrealistic, he said.

“I wanted to be able to enter a number that would give me an idea of ​​what it would look like for patients in an intensive care unit.”

Covid-19 modeler Professor Shaun Hendy said he would like the DHB targets to increase from 90 percent to 95 percent of the eligible population.

“I would love it. Higher goals in the adult population would be great.”

Covid-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy Covid modeller says he would like higher vaccine targets for the adult population.

Ricky Wilson / stuff

Covid-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy Covid modeller says he would like higher vaccine targets for the adult population.

Health Secretary Andrew Little said that while vaccination goals were set at 90 percent, “if we can do better, we should because the more people vaccinated, the better and safer it is for everyone”.

Hendy’s detailed modeling ended up with a herd immunity of 97 percent, which he admitted as “unrealistically high”.

“Besides that, if you put controls in place, you can replace some of the vaccine’s effects, and of course the government plans to do that with their traffic light system,” said Hendy.

Psirides’ vaccination counts were based on modeling a 25 percent “attack rate” assuming that a quarter of the population would contract the virus during a delta outbreak.

So far, there have been only 17 cases of the delta eruption in the Te-Whanganui-a-Tara region, the last of which recovered in September.

That doesn’t mean that health policymakers don’t expect the worst. Modular units and using the children’s hospital as a Covid ward are still options if a large-scale outbreak occurs, Psirides said.

The Capital & Coast District Health Board is working to increase the number of beds in its ICU (pictured) by hiring more staff.  The number of beds can fluctuate daily as it depends on the availability of staff.

Robert Kitchin / stuff

The Capital & Coast District Health Board is working to increase the number of beds in its ICU (pictured) by hiring more staff. The number of beds can fluctuate daily as it depends on the availability of staff.

“None of this should surprise us.”

“We have plans to increase the capacity to handle as many Covid patients as possible. And we hope that we can currently continue to work as usual for all the patients we are currently caring for and who do not suffer from Covid. “

Capital and Coast has 22 manned ICU beds, but the unit recruited to increase that number to 24. Even if 69 beds were added, the staff wouldn’t be there as intensive care nurses are “rarer than gold,” said Psirides.

Despite some friction between the health minister and intensive care clinicians at the start of the Delta outbreak, Psirides said there had been regular discussions between the two parties.

Health Secretary Andrew Little says Psirides modeling has been incorporated into pandemic response decisions.  (File photo)

ROBERT KITCHIN / stuff

Health Secretary Andrew Little says Psirides modeling has been incorporated into pandemic response decisions. (File photo)

When asked if he had the feeling that the Minister of Health is listening to the clinicians, Psirides said, “I don’t know. I don’t know what he reads and what he doesn’t read ”.

Little said that Psirides’ models supported others who showed “the more vaccinated the population, the less pressure on the health system and the better for all people in our communities”.

This has been taken into account in decisions related to the vaccination campaign and in making sure the health system can function during outbreaks, Little said.

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