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Analysis finds 1 in 20 Covid intensive care patients are immunocompromised

20th Oct 2021

Immunocompromised people now account for 1 in 20 Covid patients being admitted to intensive care, according to our new analysis of the data.

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This analysis, based on Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) data, shows that earlier in the pandemic 1 in 30 people being admitted to intensive care was immunocompromised. But since the beginning of May they have accounted for a higher proportion.

We believe that part of the reason is likely to be that the Covid vaccines work less well for people who are immunocompromised – which means it is vital they get a third dose of the vaccine as soon as possible.

So far, the roll-out of the third dose has been beset with difficulties, and our survey suggested that less than half of people with blood cancer (who make up about 230,000 of the 500,000 immunocompromised people in the UK) were invited for it by the NHS’s deadline of October 11.

While the NHS has started sending text messages and letters to people telling them to get in contact with their GP or hospital, this has added to the confusion because many GP practices are still unaware of their role in booking third doses.

Our charity has responded to the new analysis by calling on the Government and the NHS to allow immunocompromised people to be able to get their third dose directly by calling 119 or by attending their local mass vaccination centre.

Gemma Peters, Chief Executive of Blood Cancer UK, said: “Trying to get a third dose of the vaccine if you are immunocompromised has meant navigating a bureaucracy so confusing it has felt more like something from a Franz Kafka novel than part of a 21st century healthcare system.

"This failure has caused huge anxiety for people who have been struggling to get a third dose, and sadly it may leads to entirely avoidable deaths.

“The fact that the immunocompromised now account for one in 20 Covid intensive care patients is a stark reminder of how much of the impact of the pandemic is falling on their shoulders, now that other vulnerable groups have been well-protected by the vaccines. This means that by failing to properly plan the roll-out of the third dose, the Government and the NHS have let down the very people who have needed them the most.

“While the NHS now does seem to be belatedly focused on addressing this, the efforts to fix the problem have so far added to the confusion. Instead, it should urgently announce that immunocompromised people can go direct to mass vaccination centres, and clearly communicate with the centres about how third doses differ from booster doses.”

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