Covid vaccines 90% effective in preventing deaths from Delta variant in double-jabbed

Study published as UK cases and deaths rise

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 20 October 2021 22:49
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Related: Minister rules out winter lockdown

Two Covid vaccines are 90 per cent effective in preventing deaths from the Delta variant in double-jabbed patients who test positive for the virus, according to a newly-published study.

Using a surveillance tool, researchers at the University of Edinburgh gathered data on the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs and compared this with fatality figures.

The data showed that Pfizer’s shot was 90 per cent effective while the Oxford’s was 91 per cent effective.

The study is the first to show on a nationwide basis how effective vaccines are at preventing deaths from the Delta variant, which is the most dominant form of Covid in the UK.

Researchers defined death from Covid as anyone who died within 28 days of a positive PCR test, or with Covid recorded as a cause of death on their death certificate. The study analysed data from 5.4 million people in Scotland between 1 April and 27 September this year.

During this period, 115,000 people tested positive for Covid using a PCR test in the community, rather than in hospital, and there were 201 Covid-related deaths recorded.

No deaths have been recorded in those who have been double vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine in Scotland, according to the data.

Researchers said it is therefore not possible to estimate this particular vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing Covid-related deaths.

The research team from the University of Edinburgh, University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland analysed the dataset as part of the "EAVE II project" - Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of Covid-19 - which uses anonymised linked patient data to track the pandemic and the vaccine rollout in real time.

Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute and EAVE II study lead, said: "With the Delta variant now the dominant strain in many places worldwide and posing a higher risk of hospitalisation than previous variants seen in the UK, it is reassuring to see that vaccination offers such high protection from death very shortly after the second dose.

"If you still have not taken up your offer to be vaccinated, I would encourage you to do so based on the clear benefits it offers."

Professor Chris Robertson, of the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland, said: "This study shows the value of carrying out analyses of routine healthcare data available in near real-time.

"Our findings are encouraging in showing that the vaccine remains an effective measure in protecting both ourselves and others from death from the most dominant variant of Covid-19. It is very important to validate these early results in other settings and with a longer follow-up study."

To increase confidence in these early findings, researchers said data gathering needs to be repeated in other countries and settings, and with longer follow-up time after full vaccination.

The team behind the study said due to the observational nature of the figures, data about vaccine effectiveness should be interpreted with caution and it is not possible to make a direct comparison between both vaccines.

The team behind the study said due to the observational nature of the figures, data about vaccine effectiveness should be interpreted with caution and it is not possible to make a direct comparison between both vaccines.

The study is published as Covid cases and deaths continue to rise across the UK.

Figures released on Tuesday showed a further 223 people had died after testing positive for Covid – the highest number since early March.

Hospitalisations also appear to be on the rise. On 15 October, the last day on which government figures are available, 921 patients were admitted to wards.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has insisted that the virus is “under control” and that hospitalisations are stable and remain lower than they were during the summer.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, was expected to hold the government’s first coronavirus press conference for several weeks at 5pm amid concerns over rising infection rates.

His colleague and business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, told broadcasters earlier on Wednesday that No 10 currently has no plans for any further lockdowns despite calls by NHS leaders to enforce Covid ‘Plan B’ measures.

Plan B includes bringing back mandatory face coverings in public places, social distancing and asking people to work from home.

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