LONDON (Reuters) -British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Wednesday that the overwhelming majority of patients ending up in intensive care with COVID-19 had not received their booster vaccine, as he urged people to get their jabs.
Johnson, on a visit to a vaccine centre, said he had been told by some doctors that up to 90% of patients with COVID-19 in intensive care had not received their booster vaccines.
"I'm sorry to say this, but the overwhelming majority of people who are currently ending up in intensive care in our hospitals are people who are not boosted," he said. "I've talked to doctors who say the numbers are running up to 90% of people in intensive care."
Britain is currently reporting record COVID infections, with 129,471 registered on Tuesday, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus. There have also been anecdotal reports of people struggling to get tests.
While daily hospitalisation figures have increased, they are still well below the crisis endured by hospitals earlier this year, with about 1,000 people currently being admitted daily compared to 4,000 in January.
"The Omicron variant continues to cause real problems, you're seeing cases rising in hospitals, but it is obviously milder than the Delta variant," Johnson said.
He added that people should celebrate New Year's Eve cautiously after he decided not to bring in tougher restrictions in England to limit the spread of the virus.
"I think everybody should enjoy new year but in a cautious and sensible way. Take a test, (think about) ventilation, think about others but above all, get a booster," he said.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Michael Holden)