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UK News

‘Do anything you can to protect yourself’: People urged to book jabs as NHS warns hospitals coming under record pressure

today08/11/2021

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The NHS has renewed its push to drive up COVID-19 booster uptake, with people allowed from today to book their appointments a month before they are eligible.

They will only be able to receive it once they do become eligible, but the new measure could help them ensure they get inoculated as soon as their group is called.

It’s part of the government’s attempt to vaccinate as many people as possible ahead of winter, as most Britons head indoors to socialise – where the virus easily spreads – with flu also expected to surge.

‘Very clear’ jab immunity is waning as 9,000 in hospital; UK annual booster jab plan revealed – live COVID updates

Amanda Pritchard during a visit to University College Hospital London, following the announcement of her appointment as the new chief executive of the NHS in England. Picture date: Wednesday July 28, 2021.
Image: There are ‘very real pressures on the NHS’ according to its chief executive

Third shots are currently available to those aged over 50 and those deemed most at risk from coronavirus.

On Sunday, the government announced it had administered 10 million booster shoots – but the NHS says there are still 4.5 million people who haven’t had a first dose.

The health secretary also urged the public to get a booster “as soon as you can”, saying it would help “keep people safe over the winter” and avoid Christmas restrictions.

More on Covid-19

“For those not yet eligible, please help your parents, grandparents or vulnerable loved ones get their jabs – it could save their life,” said Sajid Javid.

“This truly is a national mission,” he added.

“If we all come together and play our part, we can get through this challenging winter, avoid a return to restrictions and enjoy Christmas.”

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard has warned the next few months will be tough.

“There is no doubt that the NHS is running hot and there are some very real pressures on health and social care,” she said.

Ms Pritchard said there was “14 times the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 than we saw this time last year” – based on the latest published month-on-month NHS data for August.

“We also had a record number of A&E attendance and a record number of 999 calls,” she added.

“As we look into winter, I think we’re very clear this is going to be a difficult winter, and the things we encourage people to do is anything they can do to protect themselves, so that’s the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s the flu vaccination in particular.”

She urged anyone who has not yet had a COVID-19 jab to do so, saying it was an “evergreen” offer.

Analysis by Ed Conway, Data Editor

Are there really 14 times more people in hospital with COVID-19 than there were this time last year?

The short answer to this question is, contrary to what the NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard might have you believe: no.

In fact, over the past fortnight, the number of people in hospitals in England with COVID has been lower than last year. In other words, it’s not so much that she’s got the magnitude of her claim wrong, the entire basis of it is wrong, as of now.

To see how this has all happened it’s worth briefly pondering the precise words Ms Pritchard used: “We HAVE HAD 14 times the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 than we saw this time last year.” Note the past tense.

The NHS tell us this statistic was based on NHS monthly data for August 2021, compared with the August of 2020. And indeed, if you look at the number of people in hospital this August and compare it with the previous year, there is a big difference: 5,400 on average this August vs 625 last August. Lo and behold, that’s about fourteen times bigger.

But there are two big clanging issues with this comparison. The first is that in terms of hospital numbers last August was quite literally the low point of the pandemic. Pretty much any month’s numbers would look high in comparison with it. As it was, this August numbers were not exactly low, but were still, to put it into perspective, about a sixth the level they were at the peak of the second wave.

The second problem is that even if this absurdly unrepresentative ratio were true for the briefest of moments in August (and only because the previous year’s numbers were unusually low) it should have been patently clear that it is no longer true now.

In fact, as of 5 November 2021 the Pritchard ratio, as it should perhaps be called, was running at 0.64, and will probably fall further in the coming weeks, since we are comparing the current post-vaccine era with the pre-vaccine period when the Kent/Alpha variant was about to take the UK health system by storm.

Here at Sky News we do our best to check these facts as quickly as we can. We don’t always get it right, but if we notice something fishy we’ll do our best to correct it or provide context as soon as we can. It’s quite unusual – and I say this as someone who’s been sifting through this stuff since the very beginning – to come across something quite so fishy coming from such a senior figure. But perhaps this tells you as much about the state of mind at the top of the NHS ahead of this winter as it does about their grasp of the numbers.

More than a half a million adults have come forward for a first dose since the beginning of September, an average of around 9,000 a day over the past four-and-a-half months, according to the NHS.

But the call for vaccination isn’t resonating with everyone.

A woman getting her second dose of the Pfizer jab at a southwest London vaccination centre told Sky News: “I’ve heard reports of people who had boosters and still got COVID-19 so [I’m] not really sure that it’s really necessary – if my body needs to cope it will do well with two doses.”

Some scientists say that this is down to the lack of clarity from authorities on how much of a threat COVID-19 still is.

“I think this is a very confusing public health message from the government,” said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA Council.

“Because on the one hand, it’s concerned about the level of infections and is really urging everyone to have the vaccine, but on the other hand, it’s telling people that they can actually mix freely, without any infection control measures, and they can actually mix without face coverings, without physical distancing, with crowding in indoor spaces.”

With the NHS already under strain, fears are mounting about what this winter might bring.

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 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News


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today08/11/2021