Of 815 hospitalised people with the mutant strain, 608 had not had a third Covid vaccine jab, the UK Health Security Agency has said
Eighty per cent of patients in hospital with the Omicron Covid variant have not had their booster jab, latest figures show.
Of 815 hospitalised people with the mutant strain, 608 had not had a third vaccine jab, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.
It comes as new data shows that booster vaccines slash the risk of hospitalisation with Omicron by up to 88 per cent.
Hospitalisations are beginning to rise, with a 50 per cent increase recorded in a week.
Yesterday the Department of Health said that nearly 10,000 people with coronavirus had been admitted in the UK in the previous week, with 1,915 on December 27 alone.
However experts have warned about drawing conclusions from the figures, with some infections detected when people seek medical care for other issues.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Fortunately we have some of the strongest defences this country has ever had during this pandemic, that includes our huge vaccination programme, our juggernaut of a testing system and also our world-leading antivirals programme.”
The cabinet member encouraged “more people to come forward” to join the 75 per cent of eligible adults in England who have received a booster vaccination.
He added: “We’ve got new data from UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) that suggests you are eight times more likely to be hospitalised if you are unvaccinated, so it can never be more important now to get vaccinated if you haven’t been so already.”
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Asked about difficulties for NHS staff to get tested amid high absence rates in the health service, Mr Javid said work was being done to get them “easy access” to tests.
“It is right, of course, that they should be prioritised for testing and they are being prioritised,” added the Cabinet minister.
“So, as well as getting access to lateral flow tests through community channels that most of us would use, we also have separate access through NHS channels and what we’ve done in recent days is make sure that the NHS has all the tests it needs, and we’re working with them on distribution to make sure every NHS worker, should they need it, can get easy access to testing.”
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said trust leaders recognise that the UK Government’s threshold for introducing extra measures in England “hasn’t been crossed yet” but that additional capacity is being created in case hospital pressures increase.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It is the Government who sets the rules on restrictions, not the NHS, and we know that the Government has set a high threshold on introducing new restrictions.
“So, on that basis, trust leaders can see why the Government is arguing that, in the absence of a surge of seriously ill older patients coming into hospital, that threshold hasn’t yet been crossed.
“But we still don’t know if a surge will come, and indeed we are exactly talking about the preparations we are making for that surge right now.
“So, in terms of restrictions, I think we are in exactly the same place we’ve been for the past fortnight, which is the Government needs to be ready to introduce tighter restrictions at real speed should they be needed.”
The Nightingale hubs are being established at some hospitals to deal with a “super-surge” in Covid patients in a move that Mr Hopson said would require the NHS to “go into an emergency mode” amid staff shortages, partly due to high coronavirus infections.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.