A frontline consultant who blogs about his work during the pandemic has said it was “looking increasingly likely” that we can “ride out the Omicron wave”.
Dr Richard Cree, an intensive care consultant at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, had previously feared the number of patients being admitted would be higher due to the latest Covid-19 variant.
Writing in his nomoresurgeons.com blog, Dr Cree said: “Across the country, the number of people being admitted to hospital following infection remains high.
“However, the number of people being admitted hasn’t risen as high as I feared it might and it may even be starting to plateau.
“I will admit that I thought things might be worse by now but I’m all too happy to be proved wrong.
He said people continued to die – indeed, staff were greatly saddened by the recent death of a young patient from Covid they had tried so hard to save.
He added: “There is now no doubt that the Omicron variant is far less severe than its predecessors.
“In many respects, this fourth wave feels like it is due to a different virus.
“Most of the patients who have required admission to the Covid Intensive Care Unit are relatively young and unvaccinated.
“The few vaccinated patients that we are admitting have either not received a booster dose or have significant existing medical problems that cause them to be immunosuppressed.”
On Tuesday there were seven Covid patients at his hospital’s ICU with three on ventilators.
But staff sickness levels due to Omicron remained a concern, with medics working longer hours to cover colleagues’ absence, leaving him surprised by the virus’s “remarkable transmissibility”.
He wrote: “Many ICU doctors and nurses will have caught the original strain back in the spring of 2020 and we have all received three doses of the Pfizer vaccine since then.
“Despite wearing PPE all the time, most of us will have been topping up our antibody levels every now and then as a result of inadvertent exposure.
“There can’t be many people with better immunity, surely?
“Whilst no-one has been anything other than mildly unwell, the fact that so many of us have been infected is a testament to Omicron’s remarkable transmissibility, even in a highly-immune population.”