Figures from Public Health England (PHE) show that between 1st February and 21st June this year, almost half of the over-50s who died due to the Delta variant had received both vaccine doses. On the face of it this is really alarming: does it really show that having both vaccine doses makes no difference to your chances of dying from Covid? The simple answer is ‘No’.
Full vaccination cuts your risk of hospitalization by an average of 94% and scientists think it is about the same for death. So, what is going on? Why have so many people who are vaccinated died of Covid?
The first factor is the way that percentages work. The actual number of people dying is pretty low and therefore a small number can be a high percentage. Secondly, the greater the proportion of people who are vaccinated, the greater the chance that someone who dies will be fully vaccinated: if you imagine a situation where everybody in the country is fully vaccinated, then everyone who dies of Covid will be fully vaccinated. That’s 100%.
What this does show is the effect of that 6% risk that remains even after you are fully vaccinated. That 6% is an average across all the vaccinated population and there is a spread of risk on either side of the average: some people will have virtually no risk at all while others will have a much higher risk than 6%. Whereabouts are you in that spread of risk? Nobody knows.
The other factor that emerged is the very heavy age weighting of risk. Far more fully vaccinated over-50s died than UNvaccinated under-50s. In fact, a fully vaccinated 60 year old has more risk of dying from Covid than an unvaccinated 30 year old.
The current high rate of infection (and in the North East at the moment we have a “world-beating” infection rate) means unvaccinated young people getting infected and passing it on to fully vaccinated older people, some of whom will die as a result.
The lessons from these figures are:
- Being fully vaccinated does NOT mean you cannot get infected – just that you are much less likely to be seriously ill or die as a result.
- Fully vaccinated over-50s still have a higher risk of dying from Covid than even unvaccinated under-50s.
- The risk figures are averages and hardly anyone is actually average – the vast majority lie on one or other side of the average, and you do not know where you are in that spread and therefore nobody can be sure what their personal risk is. The only thing you can be sure of is that being fully vaccinated reduces that risk considerably.
Definitely something to consider as more restrictions ease this month…
We would like to reassure our patients that our infection control measures will remain after 19th July for as long as is necessary to assure the safety of all our patients and colleagues.
Patients will still be required to wear a mask at all times on the premises and we will continue to supply FPIIR surgical masks. We will continue to clean down the treatment room before every patient. We will continue to wear appropriate PPE including surgical masks. We will continue to stagger appointments to minimize the number of people in reception at any time.
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