The Covid vaccination programme prevented 6,100 deaths in people aged 70 and over to the end of February, analysis by Public Health England has concluded.
PHE’s analysis took into account the four million vaccine doses that were given to adults aged 70 and over from 8 December 2020 to the end of January 2021 and 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 estimated 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 70-79.
The estimate on deaths avoided is likely to be conservative, as it did not take into account the effect vaccinations may have had on preventing transmission, as data on this is not yet available, PHE added.
PHE’s report also cited separate analysis carried out by Warwick University, which used a different approach but reached a similar result – estimating 6,600 lives were saved.
The report concluded: ‘These findings provide further evidence that the Covid-19 vaccination programme is already having a significant impact on severe Covid-19 disease in England beyond the effect of the national lockdown. Furthermore, the true value of these vaccines may be in terms of future deaths we might now avoid if there is a resurgence of Covid-19 in the UK in the future.’
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Vaccines save lives. This work shows vaccines have already saved over six thousand 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 loves ones.’
Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE head of immunisation, said: ‘This new analysis calculates how many lives they have saved in the first few months of the vaccine programme, and with every additional day more lives have and will be saved. The vaccines have an excellent safety record and I would encourage anyone who is offered a vaccine to take it as soon as possible.’
The news comes as NHS England today urged patients in eligible priority cohorts 1-9 to come forward to book their vaccination before supply is due to dwindle in April.