The Daily Telegraph

Just 59 deaths among double-jabbed without other illness

ONS figures reveal 99.51pc Covid fatalities since January were in people not fully vaccinated

- By Sarah Knapton Science editor

ONLY 59 fully vaccinated people without serious health conditions died from Covid out of more than 50,000 deaths in England this year, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

In the first study of deaths by vaccinatio­n status, the ONS found that around 99 per cent of Covid deaths between Jan 2 and July 2 were in people who had not had two doses.

Overall, 640 (1.2 per cent) of deaths were in those who had received both vaccine doses, but the ONS said that many of those could have been infections picked up before the second dose.

Just 256 deaths (0.5 per cent) were considered true “breakthrou­gh” infections, where the second dose had long enough to work but still did not offer protection.

However, the average age of people with those “breakthrou­gh” infections was 84 and the majority (76 per cent) were classed as “extremely clinically vulnerable”. Just 59 did not have serious medical conditions. Julie Stanboroug­h, deputy director, health analysis and life events, at the ONS, said: “The risk of a death involving Covid-19 is much lower among people who are fully vaccinated than those who are unvaccinat­ed or have only received one dose.

“This shows the effectiven­ess of the vaccines in giving a high degree of protection against severe illness and death.”

More than three quarters of adults in the UK have now received two doses, and most recent figures suggest that 95,200 deaths, 23.9million infections and 82,100 hospital admissions have been prevented by the vaccines. Commenting on the figures, Prof Gino Martini, chief scientist for the Royal Pharmaceut­ical Society, said: “It is extremely reassuring to see the latest statistics around the vaccinatio­n programme in England.

“The data show that people are much better protected from the virus after two doses, and hopefully this will inspire others to get the vaccinatio­n to protect themselves and others.”

TO BOOST, or not to boost. That is the thorny question currently being considered by immunisati­on experts ahead of a potential new winter wave.

Now it appears that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) may have provided an answer.

Out of 51,281 Covid deaths recorded between Jan 2 and July 2 in England, just 256 died after they had two doses, and the majority of those were “extremely clinically vulnerable”.

The average age of those who died after a second dose was 84, and only 59 double-jabbed people died who were not very ill or elderly.

It means that 99.51 per cent of Covid deaths since the start of the year were in people who were not fully vaccinated.

Although many of the deaths occurred before second doses were widespread, it is still a striking indication of the protective impact of full vaccinatio­n, and calls into question the need for a booster.

More than three-quarters of adults in the UK have now received two doses, and most recent figures suggest that 95,200 deaths, 23.9 million infections and 82,100 hospitalis­ations have been prevented by the vaccines in Britain.

It’s worth bearing in mind that people with severely weakened immune systems are already getting a third dose, so the most vulnerable will be getting extra protection. For everyone else, three jabs is unlikely to bring much added benefit.

This is the view of Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert, lead scientist on the Oxford jab, as well as the heads of Astrazenec­a who believe that two doses are plenty for the vast majority of people, and would rather see extra jabs deployed elsewhere.

However, Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, said the NHS was preparing to boost around 35 million people, and that he expected the rollout to start this month, to coincide with the flu jab.

The Joint Committee on Vaccinatio­n and Immunisati­on (JCVI) is currently debating whether to advise that third jabs are necessary. Recent data from the University Hospital Southampto­n NHS Foundation Trust’s Cov-boost study

‘If vaccines are deployed where they do the most good, they would hasten the end of the pandemic’

showed a third jab boosts antibodies seven-fold.

Yet the new ONS figures appear to show that people already have sufficient immunity to fight off disease.

“Death rates are consistent­ly lower in people who have had both vaccine doses than in people who have had just one, or no vaccinatio­n at all,” said Prof Kevin Mcconway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University.

“People who did sadly die of, or with, Covid-19 after two vaccine doses, a greater percentage had a weakened immune system.”

There are, of course, other matters to consider, such as whether a third jab could prevent cases of long Covid or lower the number of hospitalis­ations. But a new review in The Lancet seems to suggest that two jabs are highly protective against lesser forms of the illness as well.

Based on observatio­nal studies, Oxford University, the World Health Organisati­on (WHO) and US Food and Drug Administra­tion (FDA) estimated a 95 per cent effectiven­ess against severe disease, and more than 80 per cent effectiven­ess against any infection at all, for both Alpha and Delta variants.

The expert review published yesterday concluded that a booster is not needed for the general population because effectiven­ess is so high, even against the Delta variant.

Dr Ana-maria Henao-restrepo, of the WHO, said: “If vaccines are deployed where they would do the most good, they could hasten the end of the pandemic by inhibiting further evolution of variants.”

The team found that although vaccines are less effective against asymptomat­ic disease or against transmissi­on than against severe disease, it is the unvaccinat­ed minority who are still the major drivers of transmissi­on.

It is therefore more sensible to focus effort on boosting vaccinatio­n in areas of low uptake. In several parts of London, for example, only around half of people have had two doses.

It’s arguably time to finish the job we started before embarking on a new round of vaccinatio­ns that will have little impact.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom