London doctor says 'nine in 10 ICU patients are unvaccinated'

An intensive care doctor working in the epicentre of the Covid-19 winter wave has revealed as many as 90% of his patients are unvaccinated. 

Professor Rupert Pearse said doctors are battling to save the lives of people who declined to get the jab.

The top physician works across The Royal London Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, where infections are higher than the rest of the country.

Mayor Said Khan was forced to declare a major incident across the capital’s emergency service’s this week because of the pressure on resources and staffing.

Hospitals and other critical services are being hit by the double blow of a steep rise in cases and workers who have caught the virus themselves being on the sick.

More than four fifths of eligible people in the UK have had two doses of the vaccine but millions haven’t had a single dose, a problem which is particularly acute in London.

Around half have now received a booster, a crucial top-up which provides protection against the Omicron variant.

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While the booster campaign is regularly topping 800,000 jabs a day, it is yet to reach the one million target set by Boris Johnson.

Prof Pearse said he was ‘definitely’ seeing a trend in the vaccination status of those washing up on his ward in desperate conditions.

He told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It’s between 80 and 90 per cent of the patients that we have are unvaccinated.

‘It’s very sad that people are vaccine hesitant, but we understand the reasons, and we are happy to talk about people’s 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.’

Boris Johnson has resisted pressure from some in the medical profession to immediately impose new restrictions and ease the pressure on the health service.

Sage modelling showed to the cabinet yesterday warned hospitalisations could hit 3,000 a day in the coming weeks if social-distancing measures are not reintroduced.

In London, which is deeper into this phase of the pandemic than the rest of the country, hospitalisations have increased by 30% in just seven days.

The prime minister said the government was ‘holding in reserve’ the option to go further than Plan B but new rules this side of Christmas now appear unlikely.

Responding to Mr Johnson’s comment, Prof Pearse said: ‘If you wait for hospital admissions to rise, the opportunity to do anything about that is over, it’s gone, and harm to our healthcare system will be done.

‘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.’

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