Today, the method of counting the number of Covid-19 deaths changed, from deaths in hospital only, to now include deaths in care homes and the community.
The latest daily figures on Wednesday show a further 765 people died with the virus in UK hospitals, taking the total number of deaths to 26,097. This total is an extra 4,419 who have died in care homes and the community since the start of the pandemic.
This number includes 82 NHS staff and 16 care workers who were confirmed to have died in hospital in England. A separate BBC News analysis of published figures found that at least 114 health workers have died with the virus across the UK. It is not known where they contracted Covid-19……..but we have a pretty good idea sic.
A minute’s silence was held yesterday across the UK to commemorate the key workers who have died with coronavirus, including transport workers. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52450138
The reason for the shocking number of NHS staff and care workers dying has been attributed a shortage or lack of PPE ( personal protective equipment). A BBC article today headlines “Coronavirus as deadly as Ebola in Hospital” We have all seen pictures of Doctors and Nurses treating Ebola patients in Africa, dressed in protective suits making them look like spacemen. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52473524
However, this not the whole story. The initial dose of virus and the amount of virus an individual has at any one time might worsen the severity of COVID 19 disease. Viral load is a measure of the number of viral particles present in an individual. Higher SARS-CoV-2 viral loads. might worsen outcomes, and data from China suggests the viral load is higher in patients with more severe disease. The amount of virus exposure at the start of infection – the infectious dose – may increase the severity of the illness and is also. linked to a higher viral load.
NHS staff and Care home staff can therefore be exposed more often due to exposure to numerous infected patients. In the early stages of an outbreak, initial contacts might not be recognized, particularly contacts with those with mild symptoms, or when the use of PPE is suboptimal or not fit for purpose. Reducing the frequency and intensity of exposure to SARs-CoV-2 might reduce the infectious dose and result in less severe cases.
Source full article – https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/sars-cov-2-viral-load-and-the-severity-of-covid-19/
In summary, it is clear that lack of, or reuse of essential PPE goes someway to explain the high death toll of front-line NHS staff and care workers., contributing to them accumulating higher infectious doses and developing a high viral load, leading to severe disease and death for the unlucky.