As 78 percent of England’s population is plunged into Tier 4 restrictions from today, questions have arisen over the future of the coronavirus outbreak and vaccines across the country. Dr Zudin Puthucheary, a London consultant from the Intensive Care Society, told BBC Radio 4 that he does not expect the number of patients in ICU to peak for at least another couple of weeks. The stark prediction came as epidemiologist Professor Paul Hunter also warned the Today show that even placing the entire country under Tier 4 wouldn’t “guarantee that the instance of the disease would reverse”.
Dr Puthucheary said: “The entire intensive care community is under huge pressure right now.
“We have a rapid influx of patients, patients are coming in left, right and centre around the country.
“We are struggling with staff, the staff that we have have been working non-stop.
“Our critical care nurses have expanded their capacity, diluted their skills to try and keep up with the numbers.”
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He continued: “But they have been doing so for most of the year, so they are tired and exhausted.
“It takes about 10 or 14 days after we see the positive COVID cases for patients to become critically ill.
“So we’re not anticipating a peak in our COVID numbers for intensive care for at least another couple of weeks.
“This is just the build-up. We haven’t even gotten into the main problem yet.”
He told Radio 4: “The one light on the horizon is the licensing of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, but there is a big issue in that we still don’t know whether these vaccines will actually stop transmission, although we’re confident that they will stop people getting sick.
“So it is going to be a very difficult few months until we get, hopefully, relief as we move from spring into summer when many people will have been vaccinated and the warmer weather will be here.”
At the most recent Downing Street briefing, Professor Jonathan Van Tam did say thanks to work being done now at Porton Down#, there should be an answer about whether the vaccines will stop transmission in the next couple of weeks.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the second COVID-19 jab to be approved for use.
Rollout is set to begin on January 4.