More proof jabs have cracked Covid: Two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine slashes the risk of death by 94% in over-65s, PHE says
- Public Health England estimated jabs effect against mortality for the first time
- Two doses cut the risk of death by 94 per cent, and one dose by 83 per cent
- Study did not include data from after the Indian ‘Delta’ variant took hold
Two doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine slash the risk of death from the disease by 94 per cent among the over-65s, real world data revealed today.
Public Health England’s release marks the first time officials have put a figure on the jabs effectiveness against mortality since it was rolled out in January.
Their analysis did not include data from after the Indian ‘Delta’ variant took hold across the country. Analysis on the mutant strain is still ongoing.
But separate PHE research has shown the jab is 92 per cent effective at blocking severe illness from the variant, with protection against death likely to be higher.
Under-65s who had two doses of the Oxford-made jab cut their risk of death by 92 per cent, today’s report added. With just one dose, the risk was slashed by 83 per cent among over-65s, and 79 per cent among under-65s.
For Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, two doses were estimated to cut the risk of death by 98 per cent among all ages. After one dose, it slashed the risk by 77 per cent among over-65s and 73 per cent among under-65s.
Consultant epidemiologist at PHE, Jamie Bernal, said: ‘This data gives us even more confidence that the vaccines offer high levels of protection against Covid across all age groups.
Dr Peter English, a vaccinologist and past chair of the British Medical Association’s Public Health Medicine Committee, said the data was ‘very encouraging’.
Scientific studies suggested AstraZeneca’s jab cut the risk of death from Covid by up to 100 per cent in all age groups. But these trials involved very few older adults.
PHE bosses had held off calculating the figure because AstraZeneca’s jab was only rolled out six months ago, whereas Pfizer’s was administered a month earlier.
More than 24.5million first doses of the Oxford-made vaccine have been administered since the rollout began, and 20.7million second doses.
The new study confirms the efficacy in the real-world, where jabs are normally slightly less effective than in carefully controlled studies.
PHE bosses calculated the estimates using data on Covid deaths among those who had and had not received the vaccine before February.
A row erupted today among No10’s experts over whether Britain should vaccinate children against Covid.
One of the Government’s top vaccine advisers has claimed that letting youngsters catch Covid could actually be safer than giving them a jab.
Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said children are at a vanishingly small risk of Covid.
Whereas, in very rare cases, the vaccines have been linked to blood clots and heart issues, mostly in young people.
The argument for vaccinating children is that it will lower infection rates and therefore protect adults.
But Professor Dingwall urged people not to ‘panic about infection rates’. He said Covid was no longer a significant cause of death and science should not aim to ‘deliver immortality’.
His comments came in reaction to a SAGE adviser calling for all children to be vaccinated before the restrictions in schools are lifted, despite hospitalisations and deaths remaining flat in the face of rising case numbers.
Britain is currently on track to give all adults at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of July, according to officials, but it could take three more months just to give one jab to the 14million under-18s in the UK.
The vaccine rollout is expected to stay at around 150,000 first doses a day in the next few months because of shortages in the supply of Pfizer and Moderna’s jabs and because the AstraZeneca vaccine is not being given to young people.
Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, insisted the ‘safest time’ to lift measures at schools — including mask wearing, Covid bubbles and mass testing — would be after all children have had a jab.
And Professor Jeffrey Almond, another adviser to the UK’s vaccine taskforce, said vaccinating children is needed for the country to reach herd immunity
Dr Bernal said: ‘Getting two doses of the vaccine is absolutely vital to protect you and others against the variants in circulation in the UK.
‘Remember that you must book your second jab when invited, to gain maximum protection.’
Some 33million people have now had their second vaccine dose in the UK — 62.7 per cent of the adult population.
Dr English, who is also former editor of the publication Vaccines in Practice, said the data also showed vaccination ‘really is effective at preventing hospitalisation’.
He added: ‘I imagine that in due course these reports might start to include data on vaccine effectiveness against “long Covid”.
‘With such a high proportion of the population already having had Covid, and with the disease expected to continue transmitting at very high levels in younger, only-recently-vaccinated and as-yet-unvaccinated groups, this will become increasingly important.
‘If people have lung, brain, or other organ damage it can reduce their contribution to society and increase their need for care for years – perhaps for the rest of their lives.’
It comes after separate Public Health England data released today showed ‘the vaccine is working’ with hospitalisations and deaths not increasing at the same speed as infections.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, warned cases were rising across the country but said it was ‘encouraging’ that infections are largely concentrated in young people, who tend not to experience as severe illness or require hospital treatment.
Infections were 25 times higher in under-30s than those aged 80 or above. Those aged 20 to 29 had a rate of 424.3 per 100,000, while people aged 80 or older had a rate of 16.2 per 100,000.
Dr Doyle said: ‘Across all areas of the country cases are rising rapidly although it is encouraging to see that hospitalisations and deaths are not rising at the same rate.
‘Case rates are currently highest in younger age groups, who are less likely to be hospitalised so the vaccine is working to reduce severe disease in more vulnerable groups.
‘We continue to monitor the data closely, to ensure policy is well informed.
‘Many of us will be joining friends and family to watch England in the Euros on Saturday night, but please follow the guidelines in place to reduce the risk and enjoy the match safely — watching the game outside will always be safer than gathering indoors.’
Infection rates rose in all regions of the country. The surge in cases sped up in all areas other than the South West. Case rates per 100,000 were highest in the North East at 346.4 and lowest in the East of England (87.8).
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