A doctor at one of London’s hospitals hit hardest by Covid-19 has warned he is still treating dozens of unvaccinated patients in their 30s.
Infectious diseases doctor Ashley Whittington said people are coming into Northwick Park Hospital each day with significant Covid symptoms.
He has urged people to continue to get the vaccine to help address this.
He said a dedicated Covid ward has been open “for weeks” and he “doesn’t see that changing for the foreseeable future”.
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Dr Whittington explained there are still people who require weeks of intensive care due to Covid-19 and that the vast majority of these people have not been jabbed.
He said: “We are seeing a full range of patients – some people are discharged very quickly but we also have a lot of people who need a longer admission and who are in ICU for a number of weeks.”
He said around 70 per cent of patients being treated for Covid-19 at Northwick Park have not been vaccinated.
Of those who have been vaccinated, he explained it usually affected those in specialist circumstances, such as those who have had organ transplants or recent chemotherapy sessions.
Dr Whittington said: “There are people who have been vaccinated but they usually have medical conditions which means they have not reacted as well.
“Through no fault of their own they have not responded as effectively but, in general, it is very rare to get someone who is vaccinated needing long-term care.”
He added the hospital “regularly admits” people in their 30s who are unvaccinated, while it has had to treat “a number of” pregnant women – some of whom required critical care.
Dr Whittington explained that, at the peak of the pandemic in January, Northwick Park was taking up to 90 Covid patients each day, which was taking up all of its resources.
He said staff “couldn’t carry on with normal work” as all wards were full with Covid patients, while many had to be transferred to other sites in the area to manage the situation.
The hospital hopes the level of infection has “plateaued” for the time being, but with winter approaching and immunity levels dropping there remain some concerns.
Dr Whittington said: “It’s true that immunity does wane after a number of months and there are behavioural changes over winter as people spend more time closer together indoors.
“We are a bit apprehensive, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but we will do all we can over the winter. We don’t know what it will be like but will find out more in the next couple of months.”
He reiterated the importance of getting fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to protect yourself, others and the NHS.
There is also a push to encourage those invited for booster jabs to take them up, while the hospital continues to conduct clinical trials to find out how to make these most effective.
Dr Whittington explained: “It’s not too late to get the vaccine. What is quite clear from all the data is, if you have had two doses, your chances of coming into hospital are very, very small indeed.
“They protect against death or severe illness from Covid-19 by 95 per cent. Your chances of getting any symptoms drop by at least 50 per cent.
“People will say they know of people who’ve been vaccinated and still got Covid but, rest assured, the chances of getting very unwell is much, much smaller.
“The benefits far outweigh any of the tiny risks – only in the case of allergies to the vaccine should you not take it.”