COVID-19: Booster jabs for those over 40 – The data behind vaccine expansion and the path to a winter without containment

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COVID-19: is the jab booster deployment going fast enough to stop a winter wave?


The roll-out of the vaccine booster is to be extended to people aged 40 and over, the government said earlier today.

Booster doses were previously only available for people aged 50 and over, as well as medically vulnerable people in younger age groups, healthcare workers and close contacts of people with immune systems is weakened.

It is hoped that a successful vaccine booster program can help the UK avoid another lockdown during the winter period – particularly over Christmas – as has already happened in Austria and the Netherlands this week.

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But what does the data tell us about why this action was taken now and why the government thinks it is so important?

Hospitalization rates started to rise across the UK in the summer, as immunity began to wane among older groups.

But rates among these groups have started to drop since the rollout of the booster accelerated.

As the graph above shows, hospitalizations have been declining steadily for those over 60 for a few weeks now, but not for people in relatively younger age groups.

A study released Monday by the UK Health and Security Agency, cited by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam in today’s announcement, shows the high levels of protection the booster gives you, even compared to people who have received two doses.

People in the study who received a booster were four times less likely to test positive for COVID compared to those who received two injections more than five months ago.

These British figures closely match those of a recently published Israeli study also referenced by Professor Van-Tam on Monday morning.

After a third dose, COVID infection increased tenfold, COVID hospitalizations were almost 19 times lower. And deaths have been reduced by nearly 15 times, according to this Israeli study.

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Professor Van-Tam also spoke about the higher risk of hospitalization for unvaccinated young people, compared to people of the same age with double shots.

Although more than four in five people over the age of 50 have received a COVID vaccine, only two in three between the ages of 18 and 39 have.

Unvaccinated 20 to 29 year olds are five times more likely to end up in hospital after contracting coronavirus, compared to those who have received a double stroke. Professor Van-Tam said the risk is four times higher for those aged 30 to 39.

Other European countries are resorting to containment again, in response to the high number of cases and hospital admissions across the continent.

The Netherlands returned to lockdown measures on Saturday, with bars, restaurants and supermarkets that all close at 8 p.m.

Austria’s lockdown, which began today, affects only the unvaccinated at the moment.

Two million people who did not have an injection, nearly a quarter of the population, are now only allowed to leave their homes for work, school, exercise and the purchase of supplies essential.

Professor Neil Ferguson, epidemiologist and member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said on Saturday that the UK was unlikely to resort to similar measures.

This is in part thanks to the successful roll-out of boosters and the increased vaccination rate compared to these countries, but also the natural level of immunity that Britain has acquired due to a rate of d infection higher than other European countries.

Professor Ferguson said the high number of cases “obviously had a downside”. But, “paradoxically, this had the advantage of strengthening the immunity of the population compared to countries like Germany, the Netherlands and France”.

The vaccine update was also reinforced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a briefing on Monday afternoon.

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“Those countries with lower immunization rates tended to experience larger outbreaks of infection and in turn were forced to respond with more severe measures, while countries with higher immunization rates did not. have done better so far, ”he said.

“If we are to avoid restrictions on our daily lives, we all need to be vaccinated as soon as possible. ”

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