COVID-19 vaccines offer nearly complete protection against death from the Delta variant

EDINBURGH, Scotland — Full vaccination offers robust protection against death from the Delta variant of COVID-19, according to researchers from the University of Edinburgh. Study authors also found that the Pfizer vaccine is 90 percent effective at preventing Delta deaths and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 91 percent effective.

The team made these major conclusions after analyzing data provided by the Scotland-wide EAVE II Covid-19 surveillance platform. This work is especially noteworthy because it is the first nationwide research initiative examining how effective vaccines are at preventing death from COVID’s Delta variant. Researchers included data on 5.4 million Scottish residents, collected between April and September 2021.

During that time frame 115,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 via a community-administered PCR test. Additionally, 201 people died from the virus.

It’s worth mentioning that the Moderna vaccine is also available in Scotland and not a single person in the country has passed away from COVID-19 after receiving two doses of the Moderna shot. So, researchers say it was impossible to include the Moderna vaccine in this study. Study authors defined a COVID-related death as any individual passing away within 28 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis, or if COVID-19 appears as the official cause of death on their death certificate.

Can more proof end vaccine hesitancy?

The research team want to see their work recreated and further validated in more countries and larger population samples, as that’s the only way to increase vaccine confidence and compliance across the globe. The more indisputable the evidence that vaccines work, the hope is that more people will get vaccinated. Researchers also caution that this research is ultimately observational in nature, making direct comparisons between vaccine types impossible.

“With the Delta variant now the dominant strain in many places worldwide and posing a higher risk of hospitalization than previous variants seen in the UK, it is reassuring to see that vaccination offers such high protection from death very shortly after the second dose,” says Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute and EAVE II study lead, in a university release. “If you still have not taken up your offer to be vaccinated, I would encourage you to do so based on the clear benefits it offers.”

“This study shows the value of carrying out analyses of routine healthcare data available in near real-time,” concludes Professor Chris Robertson from the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland. “Our findings are encouraging in showing that the vaccine remains an effective measure in protecting both ourselves and others from death from the most dominant variant of COVID-19. It is very important to validate these early results in other settings and with a longer follow-up study.”

The study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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John Anderer

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