Covid France: Why are more fully vaccinated people entering ICUs?

The latest health ministry figures show that 26 fully vaccinated people are being admitted each day to intensive care units around the country, compared to 23 non vaccinated people. How come?

18 November 2021

A patient in an intensive care unit due to Covid Pic: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock

By Thomas Brent

Reader question: Is it normal that there are officially more vaccinated people being admitted to intensive care units than non-vaccinated people in France?

The latest official government figures show that on a daily basis more fully vaccinated people are now being admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) for serious cases of Covid than non-vaccinated people.

The latest figures from Drees, the statistics service of the health ministry, show that on October 31 (the date of the most recent data), an average of 26 fully vaccinated people were being admitted to ICUs each day, compared to 23 non-vaccinated people. 

The table below shows the daily admissions to ICUs in France based on a person’s vaccination status. 

This figure is perhaps surprising, due to the known effectiveness of Covid vaccines at preventing serious forms of the disease, but it should be understood in context. 

The vaccines prevent around 90% of serious forms of Covid, which means there is still a chance a person could get seriously ill from it even after being vaccinated. 

Furthermore, just under 75% of France’s entire population have been fully vaccinated against Covid, meaning that there are far more vaccinated people in the country than non-vaccinated people, increasing the likelihood that a person admitted to an ICU will be a vaccinated person.

If 100% of France’s population was vaccinated, then 100% of admissions to ICU wards would be vaccinated people. 

Figures from Drees show that in a comparison of an equal share of the population, there are nine times more admissions to ICUs among non-vaccinated people than fully vaccinated people.

The service reports that between October 25 and 31, there were 29 admissions of non-vaccinated people to ICUs out of a sample of one million people, compared to just three among fully vaccinated people. 

It is a similar picture for deaths due to Covid. 

Between October 4 and 31, there were 52 deaths per million unvaccinated people compared to only six among the fully vaccinated.

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