The “ongoing horror” of patients gasping for breath in hospital is now “largely restricted” to people who are unvaccinated, Professor Sir Andrew Pollard has told the Guardian.
Even though the more transmissible Delta variant continues to infect thousands, most of those who are fully vaccinated will experience only “mild infections” that are “little more than an unpleasant inconvenience”, the head of the Oxford jab programme said.
It comes as a new wave of infections breaks out across Europe, with German health minister Jens Spahn saying that by the end of this winter “pretty much everyone in Germany will have been vaccinated, recovered or died.”
About 68 per cent of Germany’s population is fully vaccinated. The German government said they want that figure to reach above 75 per cent to most effectively curb the spread.
In the UK, more than 50 million first doses (88.2 per cent) and 46 million second doses (80.2 per cent) have been given across the country.
A total of 14 million people in the UK have also already received their booster vaccines, securing crucial protection ahead of the winter.
Writing for the Guardian, Pollard said: “Among the general public, the pandemic is still regarded as a silent pestilence, made visible in the images of patients fighting for their next breath … This ongoing horror, which is taking place across ICUs in Britain, is now largely restricted to unvaccinated peopl
“Generally, Covid-19 is no longer a disease of the vaccinated; vaccines tend to limit its suffocating affliction, with a few exceptions.”
However, Pollard, one of those behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said Covid would still pile pressure on the NHS this winter – with unvaccinated patients requiring intensive care and double-jabbed patients who are older and frail still at risk of “life-threatening” health issues.
“The latest wave of the virus in the UK, which is now rising rapidly in parts of Europe, will directly translate into a stream of mostly unvaccinated patients entering ICU,” he said in the article jointly authored with Prof Brian Angus, professor of infectious disease at the University of Oxford. “To prevent serious illness, these people need first and second doses of the vaccine as soon as possible.
“For those of us fortunate enough to have already been vaccinated, the story now seems very different. For most vaccinated individuals, these mild infections are little more than an unpleasant inconvenience.”
But for those who are very frail, immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions, Pollard and Angus said, Covid infections can still be “enough to destabilise them” and cause “serious, life-threatening health problems that add to the pressure on the NHS”.