Lithuania currently has higher Covid-19 death rate than most other countries in Europe, even those reporting more infections, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). Local medics say some of it has to do with poorer overall health in Lithuania.
According to the ECDC, Lithuania's 14-day new infection rate stands at 322 cases per 100,000 people. The country ranks seventh among the EU/EEA countries.
However, when it comes to deaths, Lithuania ranks third with 45 deaths per million population over the last two weeks.
Ireland, Estonia, and Slovenia have higher infection rates, but relatively fewer deaths than Lithuania.
Valdas Pečeliūnas, deputy director of Santara Clinics in Vilnius, says the variance may be down to a number of factors, including the general state of health in Lithuania.
“One thing to note that the overall health of Lithuanians is slightly worse than that of Western Europeans, Scandinavians,” he told BNS earlier this week. “But in general, we'd have to look closely at the data to see if the scope of testing is the same, analyse the age of the deceased.”
Vaccination is another important factor, he added.
“Lithuania has one of the highest mortality rates from heart and vascular diseases in Europe,” said Tomas Tamošuitis, head of Intensive Therapy at Kaunas Clinics. “This reflects how health-conscious people are in general, what they know about diseases and their prevention.”
According to Pečeliūnas, Santara Clinic, which is one of the biggest hospitals treating coronavirus patients in Lithuania, has been reporting one or two Covid-19 deaths a day.
“I'd put it this way: covid is among the most common causes of death in our hospital at the moment,” Pečeliūnas told BNS.
Most of the hospitalised people are unvaccinated, he said.
“Among the people who died of Covid-19 after vaccination, all were over 60 and had other serious health conditions,” Pečeliūnas said.
Lithuania's hospitals are currently treating 857 coronavirus patients, 85 of them are in intensive care.
Since the start of the pandemic, 4,721 people died of Covid-19. Fifty-nine of them had been fully vaccinated.