The Scottish Mail on Sunday
New fears as 300 Scots die of virus despite having at least one vaccine
FRESH concerns have been raised over the Delta strain as more than 300 Scots have died of Covid despite having one or both their vaccine injections.
Latest figures show that a total of 321 people died from coronavirus between December 29 and July 8 even though they had received at least some protection from the virus.
Those given at least one jag account for almost 10 per cent of all deaths during the period.
It comes as early evidence from the University of Edinburgh suggests that the protection offered by vaccines against the Delta variant, first identified in India, might be lower compared with the Alpha variant, first seen in Kent.
Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, has repeatedly said that no vaccine is 100 per cent effective and that some vaccine ‘escape’ by the virus is inevitable. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also warned that ‘breakthrough’ infections are ‘regrettable but to be expected’.
Now, latest figures show that of the 3,283 Covid deaths registered between late December and early to mid-July, 257 people had received one dose of a vaccine. Meanwhile, 64 people had received both vaccines.
The age group most affected were the over-80s, with 194 people who had received one dose of the vaccine dying of the virus and 31 dying despite receiving both jags. In comparison, just one person under 40 died of Covid despite having one dose of the vaccine.
It remains the case that those most susceptible to serious illness or death due to the virus are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Data published by Public Health England (PHE) has shown that individuals who receive a single dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have approximately 70-85 per cent lower risk of death compared with unvaccinated individuals. For the Pfizer-BioNTech jag this rises from around 80 per cent after one dose to 95-99 per cent after two.
Modelling from PHE and Cambridge University’s MRC Biostatistics Unit estimates that 36,900 deaths had been prevented in England as a result of the vaccination programme, up to July 9.
Scotland’s hospitalisation figures show that there are still people who have received one or both their jabs being admitted for urgent care.
Statistics show 263 people who received one or both jabs between July 10 and 16 were admitted to hospital with Covid, representing around half of all coronavirus hospital admissions in that period.
Last week, NHS Lanarkshire said it had been forced to prioritise urgent care for the most vulnerable people due to a rise in coronavirus patients, staff having to self-isolate, and a ‘massive’ increase in A&E attendance.
Earlier in the week, the health board cancelled planned surgeries at its three acute hospitals – University Hospital Hairmyres, University Hospital Monklands and University Hospital Wishaw.
Research from the University of Edinburgh found the Pfizer vaccine gives 79 per cent protection against infection from the Delta variant at least two weeks after the second dose, compared with 92 per cent against the Alpha variant.
The AstraZeneca vaccine offers 60 per cent protection against the Delta variant compared with 73 per cent for the Alpha variant.
Last night, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: ‘We continue to urge anyone who has not yet come forward to do so as there is no doubt that vaccination represents our best way out of the pandemic and the best way to protect ourselves, our family and friends and our communities.
‘Drop-in clinics continue to operate or you can arrange an appointment at a time and location to suit at NHS Inform.’
A spokesman for the WHO
‘You can arrange an appointment to suit’ ‘The protection is only partial after first dose’
said: ‘Some breakthrough infections are regrettable but to be expected. For two-dose vaccines, the protection provided is only partial after the first dose, especially against the Delta variant.
‘So it is vitally important that people get fully vaccinated as soon as they have the possibility to do so. Time is also needed before protection reaches its maximum level after people have the second dose.
‘Even after taking all of the recommended doses and waiting for a few weeks for immunity to build up, there is a chance that someone could fall ill, especially if they do not follow other protective measures.
‘However, even if people do get infected, those who have been vaccinated are more likely to have no symptoms or mild illness.’
Professor Leitch added: ‘Every single death from Covid19 is a tragedy, and our condolences go out to the families affected.’