A new analysis has suggested that thousands of deaths from COVID-19 have been prevented due to the vaccination programme.
Over four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were given to adults aged 70 and over from 8 December 2020 to the end of January 2021.
Protecting vulnerable groups
The PHE analysis compared the observed number of deaths with the number of deaths that would have been expected, if the vaccine had not been given during this time.
To allow for the time taken to develop an immune response to vaccination, the analysis assumed it would take 31 days before the effect of vaccination on deaths is observed and expected deaths with COVID-19 were estimated using real-world data on how effective the vaccines are at preventing death and vaccine uptake.
From this method PHE has estimated that around 5,900 deaths were prevented in those aged 80 and over and 200 in those aged 70 to 79.
Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “Vaccines save lives. This work shows vaccines have already saved over 6,000 lives among the most vulnerable in our society. These results give us hope and remind us about the importance of getting the jab as soon as we are eligible. Millions of people will soon be getting their second doses – giving them the strongest possible protection against COVID-19. I urge everyone to come forward for the vaccine when it’s your turn, to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
PHE has said that if future evidence shows that vaccines also reduce transmission, then an even higher number of deaths will have been prevented.
The true value of these vaccines may also be in terms of future deaths avoided, should there be a resurgence of COVID-19 in the UK in the future.