According to doctors in Dutch hospitals, Covid-19, like the flu, will return every year in the winter months. The course will be almost the same as the regular flu and special “winter staff” is an option that is currently being considered.
“The wave will be smaller than it is now, but corona will come back in winter,” says Hans Kuijsten, an intensivist at the Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital in Tilburg. Working towards a system in which employees in the hospital can be labeled as “reservists” and called up for work in the ICU is a possibility.
According to Peter van der Voort, head of intensive care at UMC Groningen, it is an option to create a reserve intensive care unit. “You can use it for something else in normal times, but if the need arises, as an IC. For that, you need a flexible layer of staff that also has an IC base.”
Flu as a minor crisis
According to medical leader acute care and intensivist Simone Gielen at the Bernhoven hospital in Uden, every flu season is a small crisis. “I expect you will have a wave with Covid and influenza. Of course, there will be a vaccine, but we don't know yet how well that will work, for whom, and what it will do for the spread of the virus.”
“A real scenario” is what van der Voort calls a recurring Covid-19 winter wave. “It also depends on the vaccination rate. An advantage may be that corona mutates less quickly than flu and that vaccines may therefore be more effective.”
Yesterday there were 2034 corona patients in hospital and this is 400 more than two weeks ago. In the normal wards, the hospitals already helped 17000 patients and at least 3000 patients in intensive care. These are big numbers and make the current lockdown more understandable. According to the NICE foundation, these are 40 percent more patients than in the first wave.
Meanwhile, hospitals have their hands full with the second wave. Yesterday, 2034 corona patients were in the hospital, more than 400 more than two weeks ago. During the second wave, the hospitals already helped 17,000 patients in the normal wards and 3,000 people in the IC. That is now 40 percent more than during the first wave, according to figures from the NICE foundation. At the request of the VWS and RIVM, the NICE Foundation has been facilitating the registration of COVID-19 patients in Dutch intensive care (ICU) and nursing departments since mid-March.
“We have very little fat on the bones,” says Armand Girbes, head of intensive care at the UMC in Amsterdam. “There are not enough doctors and nurses. That has to change.”