Elderly and vulnerable people who are double jabbed have started dying of Covid due to waning immunity, health chief warns as NHS says it is already at peak winter levels for bed occupancy
- Dr Susan Hopkins urged more people to come forward to get their top-up jabs
- Scientist said more than 60 per cent of population have been offered boosters
- Health chiefs warned that the vaccine’s effects wane after five or six months
Elderly and vulnerable people who are double vaccinated against Covid-19 have started dying of the virus due to the jab’s waning efficacy, a chief medical advisor has said.
Dr Susan Hopkins at the UK Health Security Agency said while the coronavirus booster rollout was going well she wanted to urge more people to come forward to get their top-up jabs.
The scientist’s comment come after reports last week said Number 10 was concerned about hospital admissions and deaths among double-vaccinated people rising due to waning immunity.
It also comes as the chief executive of NHS Providers warned that health trusts in England are already at peak winter levels for bed occupancy.
Health chiefs have warned for months that the vaccine’s effects wane after five or six months after the second dose, which prompted the Government to launch a booster campaign in the autumn.
Speaking about the mortality rates relating to Covid-19 on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Dr Hopkins said: ‘The people who are dying are the same people who have died all the way through.
Dr Susan Hopkins at the UK Health Security Agency said while the coronavirus booster rollout was going well she wanted to urge more people to come forward
The scientist said more than 60 per cent of the population that are being offered boosters are taking it up
‘It is particularly the older age groups, so the over-70s in particular, but also those who are clinically vulnerable, extremely vulnerable, and have underlying medical conditions.’
She added: ‘As we’ve mentioned, the immune effects wane and what we see is, especially in the older or the vulnerable groups, those are the people whose immunity will wane the most.
‘So, if you’re a healthy 30-year-old, then two doses will protect you for a longer period. That’s why those people need to come forward for their third dose as soon as possible.’
The scientist said there are deaths in the elderly population due to around 5 per cent of those remaining unvaccinated.
She added: ‘We’re still seeing deaths in mainly the unvaccinated population … but increasingly, because of immune waning effects, there are deaths in the vaccinated group as well.’
Outlining the uptake of boosters so far, Dr Hopkins said: ‘It’s been quite good. There’s over 60 per cent of the population that are being offered boosters [who] are taking it up.
‘I think it’s slower than we saw in the first round.
‘I think that may be due to people thinking they’re already protected, which is why we’re giving a lot of public health messages about why it’s so important for them to come forward for that third dose.’
She added: ‘We know that the virus is circulating at very high levels in our community. So unless people get vaccinated, we will have a long and difficult winter.’
This week Health Secretary Sajid Javid called for people to come forward for their third doses, stating that younger relatives should urge eligible parents and grandparents to take up the offer of a booster and the flu vaccine.
He said: ‘Almost 10 million people in the UK have received their Covid-19 booster and third jabs, a phenomenal achievement in under two months.
‘As we approach this milestone, I want to thank those who have come forward and urge everybody across the nation to get vaccinated, get protected and get boosted.
‘We know immunity begins to wane after six months, especially for the elderly and the vulnerable, and booster vaccines will top-up their protection to keep people safe over the winter.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid called for people to come forward for their third doses, stating that younger relatives should urge eligible parents and grandparents to take up the offer
‘I strongly urge everybody who is eligible for a Covid-19 booster or flu vaccine to take up the offer as soon as you can.
‘For those not yet eligible, please help your parents, grandparents or vulnerable loved ones get their jabs, it could save their life.
‘And if you haven’t yet had your first and second vaccines, it is not too late, the NHS will always be there to welcome you with open arms.
‘This truly is a national mission.
‘If we all come together and play our part, we can get through this challenging winter, avoid a return to restrictions and enjoy Christma
People over 50 and those most at risk from Covid-19 are currently eligible for a booster six months after their second jab.
The chief executive of NHS Providers has warned that health trusts in England are already at peak winter levels for bed occupancy.
Chris Hopson has said the NHS is expecting to see a combination of higher levels of Covid and higher levels of flu this winter while dealing with the backlog of care for patients.
In a pre-recorded interview to be broadcast on Times Radio on Sunday morning, he said: ‘The accident and emergency pathway is very, very busy. So, at a point when our staff are really exhausted, it is very worrying.
‘The bit that’s particularly worrying is … if you look at acute hospitals, where effectively you look at bed occupancy, which is a very good measure of how busy a hospital is, we’re seeing bed occupancy levels, it’s sort of 94, 95, 96 per cent.’
He added: ‘At this point, before we’re into peak winter. We’ve not seen that before. That’s unprecedented. So, there’s a real sense that the NHS is going to be under real pressure.’
The UK Health Security Agency’s Dr Susan Hopkins said the group is continuing to monitor the coronavirus as it mutates but delta currently remains the most dominant variant.
She added that while it is too early to say the virus has nowhere else to go, its changes are likely to be ‘smaller and more incremental from here on in’.
Outlining if she thinks this will be the last Christmas where people will be wearing face masks, Dr Hopkins added: ‘Hopefully this will be the last Christmas where we have to think that way. I think we’ll know much more when we get to the spring and as time goes on.
‘I do think, though, that this is going to be part of our endemic seasonal influenza and other respiratory viruses.’
Yesterday Britain’s Covid crisis continued to shrink amid hopes a triple boost of falling infections, faster booster jabs and a ‘wonder pill’ will aid the UK’s fight against the virus this winter.
Department of Health bosses posted a further 30,693 new infections over the last 24 hours, up 25 per cent on the 41,278 recorded last Saturday.
It was the 14th day in a row cases fell week-on-week, barring Monday — a blip that was down to Wales not publishing any infection numbers the previous week.
The number of people dying with the virus also fell 6.6 per cent to 155, down from 166 last Saturday.
British travellers who fail to take their booster jabs could face renewed restrictions. Pictured: Passengers arrive at Palma de Mallorca Airport
The plans are likely to prove controversial if introduced before most of those eligible for their booster have received it
And hospitalisations fell to 1,055 on Tuesday, the latest date data is available for. They were down 3.2 per cent on the previous week.
NHS figures from Sunday say that more than seven in 10 people aged 80 and over have had their boosters while almost three in five people 50 and over have also had their top-ups.
It comes as it was revealed that British travellers who fail to take their booster jabs face renewed restrictions.
Plans to reimpose quarantine and testing for those who have refused their third vaccine are currently being drawn up by Ministers to protect the UK against the spread new Covid variants, The Mail On Sunday revealed.
But they are likely to prove controversial if introduced before most of those eligible for their booster have received it. So far, only 60 per cent have done so.
The move would change the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ from having had two jabs to three.
Officials are divided over how soon to implement the measure and are discussing a grace period that would allow people to travel without quarantine if they had sought a booster six months after their second jab but had not yet been offered an appointment.
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