Jan 16th 2021TO THOSE WHO receive them, vaccines offer fast protection, with effects kicking in just a few weeks afterwards. For health-care systems
TO THOSE WHO receive them, vaccines offer fast protection, with effects kicking in just a few weeks afterwards. For health-care systems, though, the protection takes a little longer—as those working in English hospitals are now acutely aware.
In all 32,689 National Health Service beds are currently occupied by people with covid-19, 50% more than in last year’s peak. Modelling by the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group suggests that because of the slow start to the roll-out, even if everything goes to plan, hospital admissions will not decline sharply until early February.
Intensive-care admissions will take still longer. The government has jabbed the oldest first. Yet the elderly tend not to end up in intensive-care units, because they don’t do well on ventilators (the average age of covid-19 patients on critical-care wards is a sprightly 60). Thus the actuaries think intensive-care admissions won’t drop much until the end of February.
The modelling is based on the assumption that cases will remain at current levels. That is not too far off what many in the health service are now expecting. Growth in cases seems to have halted, but the lockdown may not force a fast decline in infections, because of the increased transmissibility of the new variant.
The result will be a period of sustained pressure on hospitals. London’s and the south-east’s have so far borne the…