Doctors warn of crisis as officials reject restrictions

Firefighter Matt Smither is seen working alongside critical care nurses in the intensive care unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, southern England.

Adrien Dennis | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – A growing number of doctors in the United Kingdom are warning that the country and its health services are facing a renewed health crisis due to the outbreak of Covid-19 infections and the high number of hospitalizations and deaths.

The warnings, from several major British medical bodies over the past two days, come as government officials insisted that further restrictions on public life were not yet necessary, despite Health Minister Sajid Javid warning on Wednesday that cases of Covid-19 It could reach 100,000 cases per day. Enter the winter period.

Making matters worse, UK experts are now monitoring a mutation in the delta variant that could make the virus more transmissible.

Read more: Delta variant contains mutation that worries experts: Here’s what we know so far

‘Incredibly disturbing’

The British Medical Association criticized the government’s optimistic view of the situation, saying on Wednesday it was “incredibly concerning” that Javid was not, as the association saw it, “willing to take immediate action to save lives and protect the NHS”.

“Especially as we head into winter, when the NHS is in the grip of tackling the largest backlog of care, with an already depleted and overburdened workforce,” she added in a statement.

Read more: UK doctors call for urgent return to Covid restrictions as experts monitor new surge

The BMA-backed calls, made earlier this week by the NHS consortium (which represents organizations across the UK healthcare sector) for the government to start ‘Plan B’, which it said last month it would do if Covid cases threatened to hit hard. on the ability of the health care service to operate.

“The reality today is an unacceptable rate of infection, hospitalization and mortality, unheard of in similar European countries. Compared to France, we have more than 10 times the number of cases and almost four times the number of deaths per million,” the BMA said.

The UK recorded between 40,000 and 50,000 new daily infections in the past week. While the number of daily deaths and hospitalizations is still much lower than the previous peak of the pandemic thanks to the Covid vaccines, the data shows that these numbers are also rising.

On Thursday, the UK reported 5,2009 new cases and 115 deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid. In addition, another 959 people have been hospitalized, according to official data.

The government dismissed concerns about whether the health service could handle the matter. Health Minister Edward Argar told the BBC on Thursday that the NHS was not under “unsustainable pressure”, noting that there were about 95,000 beds in NHS hospitals, of which 7,000 are pre-Covid patients and 6,000 are currently empty.

“We know how those numbers can go up quickly, which is why we’re looking at it day by day, hour by hour. But right now we have the ability to manage,” he said.

Other experts beg to differ, saying the data may be worse than it looks.

‘The UK is really in trouble’

The Zoe Covid UK Study, which collects and analyzes Covid data with the help of King’s College London, estimated Thursday that the number of daily positive tests in the country is much higher than government data indicates. The data indicated there were 81,823 new daily symptomatic cases, on average, based on PCR and LFT (lateral flow test) test data from up to five days ago. This is a 17% increase from 69,993 new daily cases last week.

Dr Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London who is directing the study, commented: “With more than 80,000 new cases per day, the UK is really in a bind.

“This did not happen overnight, but it is frustrating that our calls for a more cautious approach to managing Covid have gone unheeded, despite the bullish trends we have now been reporting for several weeks… The UK needs to act now to prevent the situation from getting off the ground. control before winter.

stop vaccinations

Medical experts also agree that the UK’s vaccination programme, which began in December 2020, has been halted. Official data indicate that 79% of the population aged 12 and over has been fully vaccinated.

“There are a number of developments that underlie the dramatic rise in infections in the UK. Adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as wearing masks has fallen; the fitting summer season has faded; and a new sub-series of the delta variant, known as JPMorgan’s chief European economist David Mackie said in Thursday’s note, AY.4.2, is increasing modestly.

“But, in our view, the key issue is the combination of a faltering major vaccination program, lackluster vaccine protection and the mediocre start of a booster programme.”

Mackey noted that the number of individuals fully vaccinated in the UK reached 45 million at the beginning of October, but by October 19, 45.4 million people had been fully vaccinated, “which represents an average daily pace of only 27,600 for the past few weeks. He said that the main vaccination program has effectively stopped.”

Spector agreed that “the two main reasons for seeing cases at their peak in January are the UK’s reluctant vaccine program… and the lifting of most restrictions too soon.”

He said the government needed to encourage non-vaccinators to take the shots, and bring back “simple measures, such as wearing masks on public transport and in crowded, poorly ventilated places, avoiding large indoor gatherings and working from home where possible”.

“Doing nothing now will only make it worse. This pandemic is not over yet, and while some seem to prefer burying their heads in the sand, Covid-19 and its new variants have other plans.”

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