Top doc warns 9 in 10 ICU patients unvaccinated as wave of Omicron hits hospitals in London12/21/2021
NINE in ten patients in ICU with Covid are unvaccinated, a doctor in London has warned.
The capital's hospitals are now facing the start of an Omicron wave of admissions that experts say will spread across the nation.
Professor Rupert Pearse, an intensive care doctor in London, said vaccines will have a “very important impact” in holding back more hospitalisations, even with Omicron.
Jabs prevent severe disease and three doses are estimated to be 80 per cent effective against the Omicron strain, figures from Imperial College London show.
Getting the booster shot is the best way to protect against the strain that is spreading at lightning speed across the UK.
The UK is today set to hit nearly 30million people boosted with a third dose – half of the population – while cases also hit record highs.
Scientists are piling the pressure on ministers to take action now to prevent a large predicted wave of hospital admissions.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly wants more hard data on the impact Omicron is having on hospital rates, and whether it will be held back by booster jabs, before he imposes restrictions.
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Prof Pearse warned the delaying taking extra steps to control Covid could be harmful to the NHS.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you wait for hospital admissions to rise, the opportunity to do anything about that is over, it’s gone, and the harm to our healthcare system will be done.
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“In London we’ve seen cases double, and I think we are seeing the wave of admissions now.
“If you look at UK-wide figures you can’t see an uptick in hospital admissions just yet. But we know it’s coming and it will spread across the country.”
Daily UK hospital admissions have gone up by a small six per cent in the past week.
But in London, admissions have sky-rocketed by 30 per cent in one week.
Asked if he had seen a trend in the vaccine status of those seriously unwell and in intensive care, Prof Pearse said “definitely”.
“It’s between 80 and 90 per cent of the patients that we have are unvaccinated”, he said.
“It’s very sad that people are vaccine hesitant, but we understand the reasons, and we are happy to talk about peoples fears about getting vaccinated.
“There is absolutely no doubt that it’s protecting the population.
“We don’t know how well its going to work with Omicron. We think it will have a very important impact, it may not be as stong as with previous versions of the virus, but it will still have a very very important impact.”
Around 10 per cent of people in the UK over the age of 12 have not had a first dose of their jab, while 18 per cent have not had two.
COST OF COVID
Prof Pearse stressed the impact of Covid hospitalisations on the rest of NHS care, saying: “Whether you are hit by a bus, whether you’re having cancer surgery, it does not matter. That healthcare is not as good right now.”
Echoing his thoughts, Dr David Strain, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, said unvaccinated people were taking up NHS capacity.
He told The Sun: “For every patient in bed with Covid, that is one patient that is not getting their diagnostics for that other disease.
“For every unvaccinated person in an ITU bed with Covid, that is an operation cancelled that could be removing cancers, fixing heart disease or just improving quality of life with a hip replacement.
“Unvaccinated people with Covid will spend about 10 days in ITU, thus delaying at least five operations, assuming that those other operations would normally require two days worth of ITU post-op support.”
There are already talks of the NHS and its services becoming “overwhelmed”.
An internal document from NHS England London said this could happen in the next two to three weeks in London, based on modelling.
The memo, seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), said services “are under exceptional pressure” due to the vaccine campaign and infection control measures in hospitals, such as social distancing.
Meanwhile, Prof Paul Hunter told the PA News Agency that it would “not be long” before the NHS was under “dreadful strain” if Omicron cases were still doubling every two days.
Under some modelling scenarios, high hospital admissions are “pretty much locked in” already and “a lockdown after Christmas would probably be too late”, he said.
GLIMMER OF HOPE
But at the lower end of the predictions, hospital admissions would not overwhelm the NHS.
A number of experts have indicated the situation isn't quite as gloomy as portrayed by scientists advising the Government (Sage).
The group warned hospital admissions could reach 3,000 per day in England (currently at 900) without measures above Plan B.
But leading Covid professor Sir David Spiegelhalter thinks the variant "isn't spreading as fast as doomsday predictions suggest".
Sir David claimed speed at which hospitalisations are going up "may be slowing down”.
“It's not looking quite as bad as it was in terms of the speed of increase,” he told Channel 4 News.
"Around half the extra admissions in London with Covid were in fact diagnosed with Covid after they had been in hospital, in other words they had Covid anyway, which vast numbers of people in London now do, and then they found out they had Covid once they'd gone to hospital."
Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive said: “Once again, we urge everyone who is able to get a booster jab to come forward and do so. It is the best defence we have against this highly transmissible new variant."
The Sun is also urging readers to sign up to the Jabs Army campaign to make the rollout as smooth and fast as possible.
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