Covid ICU cases almost three times more common in NHS England

While overall Covid infection and hospitalisation rates continue to be at pretty much the same level across the UK, an anomalous difference in the numbers requiring intensive care persists, month after month.

Recently the number of patients in ICU for Covid in England has been running at approaching three times as many, pro rata, and rarely falls below twice as many.

Wales, with a smaller population, typically has more Covid ICU cases than Scotland.

This cannot be a random effect.

I’ve reported this several times over the last year or so but no reliable research has been done to explain it.

I’m left, still, with the impression that better and earlier detection and care is stopping many cases in Scotland getting to the point where they require ICU admissions.

Were the figures to be reversed, I feel sure that Scotland’s MSM would be blaming the SNP Government for it, so in fairness, we must assume they have been doing something right, in terms of NHS staffing, beds, A&E times, vaccine rollout and….


I wondered why this might be and Lorna Murray [] tweeted:

People in England are unable to pay for drugs such as ventolin for asthma therefore are hospitalised as a result

I was intrigued and did a quick search for evidence either way. No research group seems to have done this and I offer my hypothesis below ready to be contradicted with better evidence but:

People with moderate-to-severe or uncontrolled asthma are more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19.

People with mild and/or well-controlled asthma are neither at significantly increased risk of hospitalisation with nor more likely to die from COVID-19 than adults without asthma.

I think its reasonable to interpret ‘well-controlled‘ as involving medication.

Can everyone afford to be medicated adequately?

Essential medicines for treating asthma and COPD were largely unavailable and unaffordable in LMICs [low-income and middle-income countries]. This was particularly true for inhalers containing corticosteroids.

The Covid death rate in Scotland is 226.8 per 100 000. In England, it is 310.9, 37% higher in a country with a generally higher life expectancy.

There have been 12 389 Covid deaths in Scotland and 175 007 in England, around 45 890 more per head of population.

Around 5.4 million in the UK have asthma.


  1. Have free asthma prescriptions in Scotland played a major part in saving 4 589 (37%) from Covid deaths?
  2. Has a lack of free asthma prescriptions for the poor in England, played a major part in tens of thousands of avoidable Covid deaths?

Other sources:

Thanks to for reminding me. I appoint him Memory Correspondent.


3 thoughts on “Covid ICU cases almost three times more common in NHS England

  1. John, did you not report here a few month back on numerous articles stating that people with managed respiratory conditions had no worse a prospect than the healthy, and that would infer that lack of access to condition management is what lies behind the higher ICU rates in England and Wales?

    Would it not be fair to conclude that the ICUs of England and Wales are full of people who can’t afford their medications (inhalers) and go without, in preference to affording heating and food?


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