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COVID-19 vaccines have prevented thousands of deaths in older adults

Credit: Photo HMSO

Public Health England (PHE) analysis indicates that the COVID-19 vaccination programme prevented 6,100 deaths in those aged 70 and older in England up to the end of February.

From 8 December 2020 to the end of January 2021, over 4 million vaccine doses were given to adults aged 70 and over. The analysis compared the observed number of deaths with the number of deaths that would have been expected, if the vaccine hadn’t been given during this time period. 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. Using this method, PHE estimates that around 6,100 deaths were prevented to the end of February – 5,900 in those aged 80 and over and 200 in those aged 70 to 79.

Expected deaths with COVID-19 were estimated using real-world data on how effective the vaccines are at preventing death and vaccine uptake.

The results are very similar to those estimated by Warwick University (also published in today’s report), which used a different approach to model the number of deaths with and without the vaccination programme. Warwick University’s estimate suggested that the programme has prevented around 6,600 deaths across all age groups.

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.

Drawn from Government press release Public Health England press office  dated 26th March 2021