UK study shows efficacy of Covid shot; average age for deaths is 82 – With insights from The Wall Street Journal

A study conducted in the UK has provided evidence on the efficacy of vaccines. Analysing more than 50,000 Covid deaths in England, the data shows a glaring difference between those who were vaccinated and those who were not. Conducted between January 2nd and July 2nd, the analysis recorded 640 deaths among fully inoculated individuals. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the average age of people in the “breakthrough” deaths was 84 – which is two years older than the average for Covid-19 deaths. “The findings add to a considerable body of evidence world-wide that suggests vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from Covid-19,” writes reporter Jason Douglas.

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Covid-19 Study in England Shows Few Deaths Among Vaccinated People

Survey finds 640 coronavirus deaths in the first half of 2021 among people who had received two shots and more than 50,000 among those who hadn’t

LONDON—An analysis of more than 50,000 Covid-19 deaths in England this year offers reassuring evidence on the effectiveness of vaccines, showing that mortality rates among people fully inoculated against coronavirus were a fraction of those without a shot.

The analysis is notable because it includes estimates of the mortality rate between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups that account for differences in age. It also provides considerable detail about the overall health of breakthrough-case victims who succumbed to Covid-19 after receiving two doses of vaccine.

The study, by the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics, recorded 640 deaths among fully vaccinated individuals between Jan. 2 and July 2, or 1.2% of 51,281 Covid-19 deaths overall. Of those 640, some were of people infected before their second dose or before the protection from a second dose had kicked in, the ONS said. The agency identified 256 as breakthrough deaths, in which the person died after testing positive for the virus at least 14 days after their second dose, or 0.5% of all Covid-19 deaths.

The average age of the people in those breakthrough deaths was 84, the ONS said, two years older than the average for all Covid-19 deaths. More than 60% were male and more than three-quarters were classified as clinically extremely vulnerable, a category that includes people suffering from a variety of chronic illnesses that heighten their risk of death from Covid-19. Thirteen percent of all breakthrough deaths were of people living with a compromised immune system through illness or age or as a result of medical treatment.

Deaths involving Covid-19 accounted for 0.9% of all deaths for those who had received two doses of vaccine during the six-month period, the ONS said. By contrast, the disease was responsible for 37% of all deaths recorded among those who weren’t vaccinated.

The findings add to a considerable body of evidence world-wide that suggests vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from Covid-19. An analysis of data from nine states by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Friday found vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization with Covid-19 by 81% to 89%. An analysis from Germany published Thursday showed vaccines reduced the risk of hospitalization in those 60 years and older by 94% and the risk of death by 91%. The U.K.’s Public Health England estimates vaccination has prevented more than 100,000 deaths in England.

The ONS analysis found that after adjusting for age, the mortality rate from Covid-19 among fully vaccinated individuals in the week ended July 2 was 0.2 per 100,000 people, an eighth of the rate among the unvaccinated. Age-standardized mortality rates allow statisticians to exclude the possibility that differences in age between vaccinated and unvaccinated people explain discrepancies in death rates between the two groups.

In the U.S., federal data shows working-age adults account for a growing share of Covid-19 deaths because they are less likely to be vaccinated than older people. But overall Covid-19 deaths are lower than in previous waves of infection because older people, who are at much greater risk from Covid-19, are mostly protected by vaccination.

Though the study doesn’t specifically examine differences in death rates for cases of the Delta variant and earlier versions of the virus, it does cover the period when Delta rose to dominance in the U.K. Delta accounted for more than 90% of cases sent for genetic analysis by early June. The ONS data shows no significant difference in death rates for vaccinated individuals before and after that date.

Write to Jason Douglas at [email protected]

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Appeared in the September 14, 2021, print edition as ‘Shots Save Lives, More Data Show.’

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