More than a third of people in the UK who have died from infection with the delta variant of the coronavirus have already been fully vaccinated.
While this may initially indicate no effect from the vaccine, it is most likely a statistical effect. When it comes to the safety of the vaccine, scientists are still not worried.
So far, 86 percent of adults in the UK have been vaccinated against the coronavirus at least once. Slightly less than 64 percent of people over the age of 18 received both vaccinations. This has had a positive effect: the number of deaths associated with the virus (122 cases in one week at the last count) has dropped to a fairly low level.
Doubt about vaccines justified?
However, the death toll in the UK is worrying in some quarters: Almost one in two people who die after contracting the delta variant already had full protection from vaccinations. However, this is not a cause for concern, explains statistician Christoph Rothe of the University of Mannheim.
Such messages are comparable to claims that “70 percent of all road traffic fatalities were wearing seat belts,” he says on Twitter. “It speaks of a problem, when in fact there is a success story behind it.”
Statistical effect as an explanation
Rothe specifically refers to two statistical factors that are well known: On the one hand, that vaccinations may not be 100 percent effective, and on the other, that more and more people are being vaccinated. The second point is especially important.
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Therefore, the higher the proportion of people vaccinated in the population, the higher the proportion of people vaccinated among those who die from the corona. Thus, it is logical that the percentage of fully vaccinated people is highest in those population groups that are at greatest risk of severe Covid 19, for example, retirees or people with chronic diseases.
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In this context, there is also a lot of evidence that vaccines do not protect against serious illness and death in these groups to the same extent as has been shown in studies in healthy people. Thus, fully vaccinated people also die in risk groups, albeit to a lesser extent than without vaccination. The delta variant may further increase this proportion, but there are currently no data to assess this effect.
The risk increases exponentially with age.
In contrast, the likelihood of Sars-CoV-2 infection dying of young people with healthy immune systems remains very low – in the fractions per thousand range. However, the risk increases exponentially in high-risk groups, which are called so for good reason: “An 80-year-old who is fully vaccinated has about the same risk as an unvaccinated 50-year-old,” statisticians David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters explain in the UK newspaper. Guardian. The mortality rate among 85-year-olds is currently 15 percent.
Vaccination significantly reduces mortality
As long as the corona pandemic continues, deaths will occur even among those vaccinated. However, the likelihood that fully vaccinated people will die as a result of corona infection is much lower.
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