Proportion of deaths in ICU decreases during fourth wave of pandemic

New figures show unvaccinated patients are over-represented in ICU admissions

The proportion of people dying of Covid-19 after being admitted to intensive care units declined by a third between the third and fourth waves of Covid-19.

New figures released by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show that of the 400 people admitted to ICUs between June 27th and October 30th, at total of 97 - or 24.3 per cen died.

In the third wave of the disease - between November 22nd, 2020 and June 26th, 2021 - there were 375 deaths in ICU out of 972 admissions, accounting for 38.6 per cent of all ICU patients at the time.

Of the 400 cases of patients aged 15 years and over admitted to ICU in the latest wave, 209 were discharged, 97 died and 94 are still in ICU. Of those who died, 86 died in ICU and eight died following transfer from ICU to a ward or high dependency unit.


The latest figures show that unvaccinated people over the age of 15 account for 58.5 per cent of all admissions in the time period covered by the fourth wave.

The number of fully vaccinated people over the age of 15 has gone from 52 per cent to 93 per cent in the dates covered by the HPSC report.

Fully vaccinated people accounted for 34.8 per cent and partially vaccinated 5.6 per cent of all admissions to ICU.

Men are significantly more likely to be admitted to ICU units than women accounting for 60 per cent of all cases.

There are marked regional differences, with people living in the north-west (Donegal, Sligo and west Cavan) three times more likely (15.5 per 100,000) to be admitted than those in the south (Cork and Kerry) where the rate is 5.1 per 100,000.

Those with underlying conditions account for four out of five admissions to ICU in wave four. The most common underlying conditions were hypertension (43.2 per cent), chronic heart disease (37.9 per cent), chronic respiratory disease (28.6 per cent) and diabetes (23.3 per cent). Obesity was cited as an underlying condition in 11.2 per cent of cases.

Nearly a quarter of all patients (95) required invasive mechanical ventilation and 14 suffered kidney failure.

The most common clinical complication was viral pneumonia which accounted for 83 per cent of all admissions followed by acute respiratory distress syndrome which was experienced by 63.1 per cent of all admissions.

There were 17 cases of pregnant women being admitted to ICU during the fourth wave. All but one was unvaccinated and the exception had received only one dose.

The median age was 34 and the range of ages was between 26 and 43.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times