Rising numbers of Omicron cases are overwhelming primary care physicians in Europe and swamping hospitals, as the US struggles with its own Omicron wave.
Primary care issue: The latest COVID-19 wave has exposed Europe’s underfunded and understaffed primary health care—a long-term problem, OECD health economist Caroline Berchet told AP. “Investment in primary health care is not enough across Europe” and elsewhere, she said.
- Only 13% of 2019 health expenditures on average targeted primary health care, while 28% went to in-patient care in the 38 OECD countries.
In Spain: The 6th COVID-19 wave saw 117,775 new cases diagnosed on Monday and hospitals are treating 12,942 patients—more than the peaks during previous waves, El Pais reports. While hospitals are managing, case numbers are continuing to increase.
Meanwhile in the US: Cases topped 1,082,000 on Monday (though that number may reflect a holiday backlog), CIDRAP reports. The growing caseload led President Biden to double the government’s order of the Pfizer antiviral pill Paxlovid to 20 million, but filling that order will take time.
Staffing is the new ventilator: Early in the pandemic, the scarcity was things like ventilators, now it’s staffing, Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Ryan Maves told The New York Times.
Hospital crush: Even though a smaller proportion of cases are headed to ICUs, hospitalizations overall are increasing and exceeding last winter’s peaks in places like New York City and Baltimore.
- “We’re in truly crushed mode,” Johns Hopkins emergency department director Gabe Kelen told the Times.
Kids hospitalized: An average of 672 children infected with the coronavirus were hospitalized daily in the US in the past week ending on Sunday—the highest number so far during the pandemic, CNN reports.
Spain starts the new year with massive COVID spikes and anti-vaccine demonstrations – Yahoo News
Doctors bemoan limited supply of game-changing antiviral pills amid winter surge – The Washington Post
COVID case counts may be losing importance amid omicron – AP