Flu strain is 'MORE lethal' this year – as 200 die and thousands rushed to intensive care

THOUSANDS of flu victims have been rushed to hospital for lifesaving treatment this winter – despite far fewer cases being seen by GPs.

Medics warn this year’s bug is proving much more lethal than previous years.

It has claimed almost 200 lives in the past four months, with younger adults and pregnant women worst affected.

Experts said unvaccinated patients seem to be most at risk.

Officials claim the flu jab has worked this year – and warn vulnerable Brits can still get treated.

GP consultations for infections peaked at 23 cases per 100,000 patients in England this winter, compared with a high of 54 per 100,000 in 2017/18.

Thousands rushed to intensive care with deadly strain

But 2,182 people have been taken to intensive care for flu this year, while admissions only reached 2,045 in the same period last season.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, warned the current strain is proving deadly.

He said: “Overall, the amount of flu-like illness in the community is much lower than previous winters, but it is hitting people harder.

“Flu deaths this year could be the same or even higher than previous years.

“People being affected are younger – under-65 – and less likely to be vaccinated. If you are relatively young and healthy, it seems the body reacts more violently to this strain.”

Get flu jab to protect yourself

Other hospital medics claim one in five of their intensive care beds have been taken up by flu victims throughout winter.

Dr Simon Ashworth, head of critical care at St Mary’s Hospital in London, said it is worst flu season he has known in 25 years.

Public Health England says pregnant women and adults with long term conditions are most likely to need lifesaving treatment.

It said the most common circulating strain is swine flu – A(H1N1)pdm09 – which is covered by this year's jab.

Official data shows 71 per cent of OAPs have been vaccinated, as have 45 per cent of mums-to-be.



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Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations for PHE, said: “Flu is having less of an impact this year than last, however we know that are seeing high hospital admission rates due to flu.

“The main strain circulating is A(H1N1)pdm09, which particularly tends to affect younger and middle age adults.

“At risk groups who are affected by this strain are at increased risk of more severe consequences of flu which may be why we are seeing higher rates of intensive care unit admissions.”

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