Third coronavirus wave could hit NHS with ’20 times more patients’ than second peak

Third coronavirus wave could hit NHS with ’20 times more patients’ than second peak

 

There are fears the NHS will face a third wave of coronavirus with up to 20 times more patients than the second peak.

It is thought a third peak would bring a far higher number of inpatients than those seen during the September and October wave that triggered a second national lockdown in England.

In November, two advisers to the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions at Christmas could lead to a third wave of the pandemic.

NHS hospitals would be overrun due to increased transmission and there would be more unnecessary deaths, warned Professor Andrew Hayward, an epidemiologist at University College London.

Are you or a loved one getting the coronavirus vaccine this week? Email webnews@mirror.co.uk.

Professor Graham Medley, an infectious disease modelling expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the relaxation could lead to further lockdown measures in the new year.

NHS health bosses are said to be worried English hospitals will be overwhelmed with Covid patients in January and February.

They reportedly fear that if hospitals have more than 5,000 coronavirus patients by the end of the year they may fail to cope with a third wave.

The current rate of decline in cases would not bring Covid hospital numbers under this threshold.

If the health service is overwhelmed certain operations and medical procedures could be cancelled.

At the peak of the second wave last month, 13,767 hospital beds were occupied by people infected with the virus, with the number reportedly falling to 12,241 by December 6, the Health Service Journal reports.

Meanwhile, most people over 80 in Britain will have to wait until next year to get the coronavirus vaccine, a top health official says.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said the “vast majority” of people at the top of the priority list won’t get a jab until January, February or March.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said the distribution of the vaccine would be a “marathon not a sprint”.

Vaccinations will be administered at dozens of hospital hubs from Tuesday – dubbed “V-Day” by Health Secretary Matt Hancock – with people aged 80 and older, care home workers and NHS workers who are at higher risk at the front of the queue.

Croydon University Hospital in south London was one of the first hospitals to take delivery of the vaccine over the weekend, with similar scenes unfolding around the country ahead of the rollout.

Mr Hopson said people need to “hang fire” and be assured they have not been forgotten if they have not received a letter or a phone call about the jab.

He said: “I don’t think people should expect anything over the next few days because the reality is, as I said, that for the vast, vast, vast majority of people this will be done in January, February, March.

“And the one thing that we don’t want people to get anxious about or concerned about is ‘Where’s my letter?’ in December.”

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