THE NHS is battling two different types of Covid disease across the population, a top doctor has said.
Hospitals across the UK are seeing 2,100 Covid patients come through the door every day, some of whom would have been diagnosed after coming in with another illness.
But Matthew Trainer, chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, explained not all patients are facing the same outcomes.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We've now effectively got two types of Covid really.
“There is Covid amongst vaccinated people, and Covid amongst the unvaccinated.
“And if you're unlucky enough to get severe illness, vaccination is the difference between probably a short stay on a ward with oxygen and potentially a bit critical care, and that puts all these conversations on restrictions to a very different light.”
Mr Trainer said the “vast majority of Covid patients who are in critical care continue to be unvaccinated”.
Vaccines have proven to slash the odds of severe illness and hospitalisation in those who are infected with the virus.
Against Omicron, two doses of the jab are not considered enough, but boosters bring protection against hospitalisation back up to 80 per cent.
Omicron has been shown in multiple studies to be milder than its predecessor Delta.
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But, as the Prime Minister warned yesterday, Omicron is “not a mild disease for everyone”, including the unvaccinated.
Top-up boosters are considered the best way to avoid more Covid restrictions, and The Sun’s Jabs Army is dedicated to getting jabs in Brits’ arms.
Almost two-thirds of Brits over the age of 12 have had a booster, while almost 84 per cent are double-jabbed.
“Not as bad as feared”
Mr Trainer said the number of hospital inpatients have not been as high as was feared when Omicron landed, thanks to vaccines.
He said: “Well, it's been tough, but it's not been as tough as we feared when we looked at modelling back in December.
“If we'd seen a year ago there were figures of 100,000 cases a day plus, we'd have seen that translate into significant amounts of people in hospital and lots of severe illness.
“We've just not seen that come through in the same kind of volumes and we've got the vaccines to thank for that.
“Staff sickness has been challenging. It peaked around seven per cent. But you know, last year it was 25 per cent…”
He added: “I think that the decoupling we've talked about between the numbers we've seen of daily cases and those really sick people in ICU critical care, that's made a real difference to us.”
Hospital data clearly show that the UK’s daily hospital admissions are on a downward slope, and inpatient trends will follow with a lag.
The number admitted in the past seven days (14,927) is 4.9 per cent lower than the week prior.
Some 703 Covid-19 patients were in mechanical ventilation beds on January 18 – down 11 per cent week-on-week and well below the second-wave peak of 4,077.
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said today “the number of people in hospital for both Covid and non-Covid care remains high” at 18,979 on January 18.
On top of this, more than 83,000 patients arrived at emergency departments by ambulance last week –an increase of 2,000 on the week before.
The NHS has had to contend with more than 77,000 staff absent due to sickness each day last week, which is 20,000 more than at the start of December when Omicron had not emerged.
Prof Powis said: “Even though the numbers are going in the right direction, NHS staff will have many tough months ahead as they continue to deliver patient care while managing competing demands.
“While staff absences remain high and continue to increase in some parts of the country – it is good to see they have been reducing week on week."
Prof Powis said “the public can help us by coming forward for care when they need it and getting their life saving Covid-19 jabs”.
Meanwhile, nursing leaders have said the UK cannot rely on vaccines alone as the NHS continues to battle “unrelenting” pressures.
It came after the PM Boris Johnson announced that Plan B measures across England are to be scrapped.
Royal College of Nursing chief executive Pat Cullen said: “We can’t rely on the vaccine alone when the situation is still so precariously balanced.
“With so many Covid-19 patients still in hospital, it would be very premature to conclude this wave is over. That is not what our members are telling us.”
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