Most Covid patients in major intensive care unit are unvaccinated, says doctor

Nearly all Covid patients taking up beds in one of Wales’ busiest intensive care units are unvaccinated, a top doctor has warned.

Dr David Hepburn, who works at the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran, South Wales, said several people being treated in ITU have died of the virus this week.

He said none of the patients who died had any significant underlying health issues and, pre-pandemic, would typically have lived for decades longer.

He wrote on Twitter: ‘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. ‘

Dr Helpburn said a day later that the picture had changed and now the majority of people in ITU with Covid were not jabbed, though some were.

He said the hospital is ‘in good shape as ITUs go’, pointing out that the number of people on the unit with Covid are declining.

He said ‘this might be because of good vaccination levels locally or we haven’t hit the peak of Omicron as yet’.

But he said that staff shortages caused by people isolating is putting more strain on 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,’ he wrote.

‘Waiting lists are longer than ever and the knock-on effect will be significant.’

Dr Hepburn said getting vaccinated and boosted ‘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.’

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He said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the Omiron wave will pass without too much disruption but said ‘things can change in a heartbeat’.

‘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,’ he said.

‘You only have to look at the difference between wave one and now in terms of serious illness.’

However, he said the issue had become very divisive and ‘finger pointing’ won’t help to encourage those who are reluctant to jet the jab.

‘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.’

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