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slower uptake 'Serious concern' as 80pc of NI Covid inpatients are under 60 and unvaccinated

The news comes while Northern Ireland has the worst infection rates in the UK

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Almost 80pc of Covid-19 inpatients in Northern Ireland are under the age of 60 years and have not been vaccinated.

Statistics released by the North’s department of health have demonstrated the impact the jabs are having on preventing people from becoming seriously ill with the virus.

The figures have also highlighted the devastating toll of the Delta variant on younger age groups, as people aged under 60 now make up 43pc of Covid inpatients.

The news comes while Northern Ireland has the worst infection rates in the UK.

The seven-day virus case rate rose for the seventh day in a row — up to 9,063 from 8,254 last Tuesday.

The chief scientific adviser last night said the struggle to bring case numbers down is largely as a result of the slower vaccination uptake compared to Britain.

“The current prevalence of the virus in Northern Ireland does give serious cause for concern,” said Professor Ian Young.

“It should be emphasised that it would be much worse without our vaccination programme.

“I would cite two potential factors as to why our position is currently worse that other parts of the UK.

“Firstly, in this particular wave, we have lagged one to two weeks at least behind the rest of the UK.

“Our numbers began to rise somewhat later and therefore we would expect them to peak later.

“Currently, our rates are about three times that in Scotland and Wales.

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“Unfortunately, I think the big difference is vaccination.

“Back at the start of July we showed that if we could have got from 85pc — which is where we are at now — to 90pc of the adult population vaccinated, we would have reduced the size of this peak, including hospital admissions, including deaths, by about 50pc. Scotland and Wales have been about 50pc lower than us.

“So I think it’s almost all attributable to the fact that they’ve done better than we have in terms of vaccination.”

According to the figures released by the Department of Health yesterday, of the 267 inpatients with Covid, 114 were under 60.

Of these patients aged below 60, 91 were totally unvaccinated.

People who have not received a dose of the vaccine now account for 52pc of all Covid inpatients in our hospitals.

That is despite the fact unvaccinated people now make up just 15pc of the adult population here.

By contrast, almost 1.1m local people have now received both vaccine doses.

Of these, just 109 were in hospital with the virus on Monday.

Yesterday, Northern Ireland recorded a further 1,305 cases and the Covid-19 deaths of two people aged 80 and over.

There were 41 Covid patients in intensive care and 105 care home outbreaks.

Prof Young added: “It is really important that we keep working to increase our vaccination rate to protect more people from Covid and to support our health service through winter and autumn.

“The pop-up mobile clinics are making a really important contribution in getting the vaccines out to the community.

“Vaccination has changed the picture radically.

“This wave is not having the impact of previous waves.

“However, challenges clearly remain. With the current wet weather, people are spending more time indoors and that may increase transmission.

“Schools are also returning shortly, and that may also have an impact.”

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