Intensive care doctors are warning the public their units are filling up with younger patients than during the first wave of coronavirus cases amid the surge in hospital admissions.
Rupert Pearse, an intensive care consultant at the Royal London Hospital, said: “The situation in London is now much worse than the first wave and still deteriorating. Sad to see long queues of ambulances outside the hospital where I work. Almost all my patients are less than 60 years old and previously fit. If you think this disease can’t touch you, then think again.”
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Writing on Twitter, he said: “We must take these seriously to avoid unnecessary loss of life. The new variant of the SARS-CoV_2 virus is more contagious and lots of people out there right now don’t realise they are infecting others.”
Almost 6,000 more Covid patients were admitted to hospitals in England in the eight days from Christmas Day to January 2, latest official data shows. The east of England saw the largest rise from 2,162 patients to 3,236 – a 50 per cent increase – with London and the south east having a 46 per cent and 45 per cent increase respectively.
Doctors in the rest of the UK also warned of the pressures they are facing. David Hepburn, a consultant in intensive care medicine in Wales, said: “I’m very tired. We are seeing much higher mortality in this second wave – patients coming to [intensive care] are sicker and many more are dying.
“Lately I’ve been the last person to have a conversation with many patients, and I’ve been calling many families to tell them the worst news. It’s emotionally very difficult and it’s not getting easier. Please take this seriously.”
Meanwhile, England’s deputy chief medical officer has said the Government’s new single dose strategy will save thousands of lives. Professor Jonathan Van Tam said the change will also help ease the growing pressure on hospitals as Covid admissions continue to rise dramatically across the country.
Second doses of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines will now take place within 12 weeks rather than the 21 days that was initially planned with the former jab, following a change in guidance which aims to accelerate immunisation.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Professor Van-Tam said this dosing regimen will “save the most lives and avoid the most hospital admissions”.
‘Race against time’
He said: “If a family has two elderly grandparents and there are two vaccines available, it is better to give both 89 per cent protection than to give one 95 per cent protection with two quick doses, and the other grandparent no protection at all. The virus is unfortunately spreading fast, and this is a race against time.
“My mum, as well as you or your older loved ones, may be affected by this decision, but it is still the right thing to do for the nation as a whole.”
All four UK chief medical officers supported the move which they said will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time. It will also have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS, they added.
A senior UK scientist has called for further evaluation of the effects of waiting up to 12 weeks for a second dose. Professor Sheila Bird, a biostatistician at the University of Cambridge, said: “The UK’s historic decision to prolong the inter-dose interval for the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine from 21 days to nearly 12 weeks should be properly evaluated in the interest of both public health and scientific method.”
— to inews.co.uk