Who are the Victorians dying from COVID-19 this year?

In Australia, which initially kept its death toll low with repeated lockdowns, the shift to daily double-digit deaths has been rapid. Murray said the number of deaths from the coronavirus now exceeded 1,200 each month.

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“But it just disappeared from the headlines. This is someone’s mother, grandmother and someone’s relative, so obviously it’s very painful for the individual and his family,” Murray said.

“It’s the price of opening up, of people in the community who aren’t careful enough to try to prevent transmission, or not get vaccinated, or not get their third or fourth dose, which I believe is everyone’s risk.” increases.”

The risk factor most likely to lead to death from COVID-19 is old age. In older people, the most serious symptoms of an Omicron infection are often not the respiratory tract, but affect physical and cognitive function, causing, for example, delirium, which leads to an overall decline. The elderly are also more likely to have co-morbidities.

Their immune system’s ability to fully respond to vaccination is also reduced, which is why a winter booster has been prioritized, Murray said.

“The most challenging question really remains whether they die” of COVID or from COVID?” Murray said. “It’s an older group, who are vulnerable, and so it doesn’t take much to make their heart failure or their dementia worse if they get sick with coronavirus.”

Despite the high number of deaths among older Australians, the uptake of fourth booster shots in aged care remains slow. Only about 65 percent of eligible residents have had their fourth vaccine dose.

“The Victorian data reflects what we’ve been saying all along about how important boosters are,” said infectious disease expert Professor Paul Griffin, who was the principal investigator of seven clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We are entering a new wave of COVID-19 where we are really concerned about the impact on hospitals and intensive care. The best we can do is get our third or fourth dose, but it seems to be a message that people are not very receptive to right now.”

Nearly 90 percent of Victorians over the age of 65 have received a third vaccine dose, while 46 percent have had their fourth winter dose.

Stephen Warrillow, director of intensive care at Austin Hospital in Melbourne, said their intensive care unit, once full of people seriously ill with the coronavirus, now only treated “one or two” COVID patients a day.

Last week, 23 Victorians with coronavirus were in the ICU. Of the Victorians who died in hospital between January and June 28 with or as a result of COVID-19, 296 had not been vaccinated and 21 had received only one dose.

The difference between daily deaths and ICU admissions is mainly due to the high number of deaths in aged care, following the lifting of strict lockdown restrictions.

The interim director of the Aged and Community Care Providers Association, Paul Sadler, said the booster program was ongoing and generally working well.

“Many retirement homes are working with local GPs and pharmacies to arrange ongoing access to booster shots for residents who choose to get vaccinated,” he said.

However, he added that it is vital that the federal government urgently addresses staff shortages in the elderly care sector to avoid staff shortages and interruptions during COVID or flu outbreaks.

Because of the high rate of community transmission, Warrillow said he was now seeing more immunocompromised people infected with the virus, admitted to the Austin ICU, as organ donor recipients. These patients became seriously ill with the virus despite taking every precaution, including being up to date on their fourth and fifth booster injections.

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“I’ve certainly personally taken care of some patients lately who are living healthy, busy lives, and that’s the success of their organ transplants, but they’ve been terribly unlucky because they’ve had their immune system suppressed,” he said.

“It’s a reminder to the community to get vaccinated and not to forget all the health advice we’ve been taught. Not only do you protect yourself, but you also take care of people who deserve our protection.”

Less than 20 percent of coronavirus deaths were reported in Victorians between the ages of 70 and 79. This fell even further for the over 60s, who made up about 6 percent of the total reported deaths until the end of June, while those in their 50s made up 3.3 percent of the deaths.

There were 15 coronavirus-related deaths among Victorians in their 50s through June 28, while 12 were in their 40s and fewer than 10 people in their 20s.

Head of infectious diseases at Melbourne’s Western Health, Marion Kainer, said deaths among younger, otherwise healthy people, who have been vaccinated, remain exceptionally rare.

Often a death occurred in a younger, vaccinated person because they were immunocompromised in some way, such as a person undergoing cancer treatment.

“It’s a numbers game. If you have a lot of diseases and a lot of people are infected, then in rare cases you will see these bad results,” she said.

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The death toll in Australia is a fraction of that recorded in comparable countries around the world – 10,000 had died from the virus in the UK by April 2020, and the same figure was recorded within two months this year.

Professor Nigel McMillan, infectious diseases and immunology program director at Griffith University, said COVID is on track to become the second leading cause of death in Australia by 2022, after coronary heart disease.

“The current 50 deaths per day are barely noticed and yet it is more than double the daily toll,” McMillan said.

“We need our public health leaders to rethink tackling this disease. We need Omicron-specific vaccines, wider use of antivirals and we need to wear our masks a lot more.”

A Victorian health spokeswoman said staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, including the third and fourth doses, significantly reduces the chances of going to the hospital or dying from COVID-19.

“Our sincere condolences go out to all the families and friends who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 during the pandemic,” she said.

“We now know that for those who qualify, a fourth dose significantly reduces the chance of dying from COVID-19, compared to three doses.”

She urged Victorians to wear a face mask indoors or when they are physically unable to distance themselves, stay home if they are not feeling well and continue to get tested if they have symptoms.

As of June 28 of this year, 14,537 people in Victorian hospitals had to be treated for COVID-19-related illnesses in the reporting period. This represents just 0.76 percent of the more than 1.9 million cases diagnosed this year. Of the cases admitted to the hospital, 5 percent were later admitted to the ICU.

With Mary Ward

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