An intensive care doctor today said every critically ill coronavirus-infected patient currently being treated at his hospital is unvaccinated.
Dr David Hepburn said there are now no vaccinated Covid patients in critical care at Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran, South Wales.
The £350million Specialist Critical Care Centre, which has 24 ICU beds, was opened four months early in November 2020 in order to tackle spiralling coronavirus cases at the time.
But Dr Hepburn said the only people now in treatment are those who have chosen not to take up the offer of a vaccine.
Data from across England shows less than nine per cent of Covid patients in critical care are boosted. This compares to more than 60 per cent who are have not had a vaccine.
This is despite over-18s with boosters making up the majority of the adult population, compared to just the fraction who are unvaccinated.
Ministers have called for all adults to book in their booster as the country’s best line of defence against the current Omicron wave.
Dr Hepburn was speaking as official figures showed a near-45 per cent fall in daily infections, to 120,821 yesterday. It was the sixth day in a row cases have fallen week-on-week.
Dr David Hepburn said there are now no vaccinated Covid patients in critical care at his hospital in in Cwmbran, South Wales
The £350million Grange University Hospital was opened four months early in November 2020 in order to deal with spiralling cases
The proportion of critical care hospital admissions for Covid in the unvaccinated (orange bar in the top graph) is increasing again to more than 60 per cent, despite the group making up less than 20 per cent of the population as of December (bottom graph)
Proportion of Covid patients who may have caught virus in hospital has DOUBLED since Omicron took off
The proportion of hospitalised Covid patients who may have become infected while being treated for another condition has doubled since the emergence of Omicron, MailOnline can reveal.
NHS England bosses logged 2,158 new admissions on January 3, the most recent date accurate data is available for. But of those, just 1,635 were infections that occurred ‘in the community’ — meaning 24 per cent of patients were thought to have caught the virus in hospital.
This figure is more than double the amount being infected on wards back at the start of December, when fewer than 10 per cent of daily admissions were believed to have caught the illness on NHS wards.
Analysis revealed the worst-hit hospital, St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in South London, saw nosocomial infections make up at least half of its total coronavirus admissions during the most recent week.
Experts told MailOnline infections on wards may be ‘inevitable’ due to high prevalence in the community — but claim it is vital health service leaders distinguish whether cases are being passed on by staff or other patients to crack down on the spread of the virus.
Boris Johnson yesterday described the number of patients being infected on wards as ‘unacceptable’, saying: ‘You shouldn’t go into hospital and then contract Covid.’
The news came on a day that:
- Experts said Britain was the closest country in the northern hemisphere to exiting the pandemic;
- The WHO warned more than half of Europeans will be infected with Omicron in the next two months;
- Nicola Sturgeon kept Covid restrictions in place for Scottish pubs and restaurants for two more weeks but lifted restrictions on football matches and other outdoor events from Monday;
- Cases were revealed to be falling in every region of the UK except northeast England;
- It emerged Covid particles linger in the air in shower rooms for up to 20 minutes after infected people leave;
- And patients testing positive with Lateral Flow Tests no longer have to confirm with a PCR from today.
Dr Hepburn said: ‘All the Covid patients on ITU are unvaccinated at present and we’ve had several deaths this week.
‘None of them had significant comorbidities and were people you would usually expect to live another 30-plus years.
‘We now have less Covid cases on the unit than for several months — this might be because of good vaccination levels locally or we haven’t hit the peak of Omicron as yet.
‘So all in all we are in good shape as ITUs go.
‘However the same can’t be said for the rest of the hospital — large numbers of Covid patients being admitted and staff shortages are significantly affecting our ability to do routine operations, outpatients, and diagnostics which will lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment as well as worsen outcomes.
‘Waiting lists are longer than ever and the knock-on effect will be significant.’
Dr Hepburn says getting vaccinated ‘significantly reduces the risk of needing hospitalisation or ITU and eases the pressure on non-Covid work’.
He added: ‘Even if your risk is low of getting seriously unwell vaccination makes a huge difference to those around you who are awaiting treatment for other conditions.
‘We all need to do what we can to help our neighbours and friends — this is reason enough in my opinion.
‘Let’s hope things don’t get any worse and the Omicron wave passes with minimal disruption — but we can all still do our part.
‘Who knows what the future holds. I am cautiously optimistic but things can change in a heartbeat.’
The experienced medic warned that vaccination was becoming a ‘hugely divisive issue’ polarising two camps.
He said: ‘There is plenty of finger-pointing on both sides which isn’t helpful.
‘All we can do is emphasise that vaccination is generally safe — seven billion doses worldwide — and protects the community, bringing us closer to controlling the outbreak.
‘You only have to look at the difference between wave one and now in terms of serious illness.
‘But we need to be sympathetic towards those who are hesitant as there are many cultural, social, and psychological reasons for this.’
NHS England figures show there were 2,158 new positive tests in English hospitals on January 3, the latest date data is available. But of those, just 1,635 were infections occurring ‘in the community’, NHS England said — meaning 523 are likely to have caught the virus in hospital (24 per cent). This figure is more than double the amount being infected on wards back at the start of December, when fewer than 10 per cent were catching Covid in hospital each day
Some hospitals saw more than half their Covid cases likely occurring in wards, with St George’s University Hospital in Omicron hotspot London having the highest proportion at 50.6 per cent
NHS figures released today show there were 13,045 beds occupied by coronavirus sufferers on January 4, of which 4,845 were not mainly sick with the disease. It means only six in 10 inpatients are primarily ill with Covid now compared to more than 80 per cent with Delta
Experts say there is reason to believe that incidentals will continue to rise as the variant pushes England’s infection rates to record highs, with one in 15 people estimated to have had Covid on New Year’s Eve
The share of so-called ‘incidental’ cases was even bigger in Omicron hotspot London , where 45 per cent of ‘Covid patients’ were not primarily in hospital for the virus
A total of 25 out of 137 NHS Trusts in England have declared critical incidents — or 17.5 per cent. Above are the trusts that have publicly announced they have declared these incidents to help them manage winter pressures
No10 faces pressure to cut Covid self-isolation period to five days
Pressure is mounting on the Government to cut England’s Covid isolation period as it emerged that health chiefs misled ministers over the proposal.
School leaders today backed calls to ease the rules as they revealed classes of more than 100 children are being taught in sports halls because of teacher shortages.
Dame Maura Regan, chief executive of Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust, said schools would ‘welcome’ the move to prevent more disruption to pupils’ education.
The backing comes after business chiefs, MPs and even NHS leaders urged No10 to look at following the United States in cutting isolation to five days to ease pressure on the economy and vital services.
But the move was ruled out by the UK Health Security Agency, which claimed that comparisons with US were ‘not like for like’.
Last night it emerged that the quango incorrectly told ministers that the country’s self-isolation period started from the date of a positive test rather than from when symptoms first emerge, as it does in the UK.
Meanwhile, intensive care specialist Dr David Frocester today revealed there are no critically ill patients at either Gloucestershire Royal Hospital or Cheltenham General Hospitals, arguing boosters are stopping Omicron from causing serious illness.
He said: ‘Community rates are very high and there are a significant number of cases on our wards but early signs are that vaccination is preventing severe disease.’
Data from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) shows the proportion of critical care patients that are unjabbed has been increasing since October.
They made up 47 per cent of all critical admissions in that month but crept up to 60.8 per cent by December this year.
Meanwhile, those who were already triple jabbed in the month only made up 8.9 per cent of people being treated for serious illness with the virus.
This came despite those on three doses already making up a third of the adult population in the month.
The NHS passed another milestone today, reaching more than 30million people triple-jabbed in England alone.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy for the NHS Covid Vaccination Programme, urged those still yet to receive a jab, second dose or booster to come forward for an appointment.
She said: ‘Since the booster rollout launched in September, NHS staff and volunteers have pulled out all the stops to protect the country and today we have reached another milestone of 30million top-up doses, with almost eight in 10 eligible adults now boosted.
‘There are more than 3000 vaccination sites across the country, with appointment slots popping up all the time, and it has never been easier to find a time and place that’s convenient for you.
‘If you haven’t yet had your first, second or booster dose, please do come forward, as we know this provides the best protection from coronavirus and trusted healthcare professionals are on hand to answer any questions you may have.’