Dr Hilary discusses ‘minor’ side effects of booster vaccine
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The experts say it is thanks to a combination of infections and vaccinations that have spurred a high level of immunity. In their study, they predicted that if all restrictions and vaccinations were to stop today, England would have 10,000 more deaths. That compares to 114,000 in Germany and 16,000 in Greece, which is a sixth of the UK’s size.
Their findings were based on a calculation of the distribution of immunity in different age groups and countries.
The UK is averaging around 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths a week, of which 15,000 have come since “freedom day” in July.
Dr Lloyd Chapman, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “In a sense, we paid a very high price for being further along a path towards having a high level of immunity in the population.
“Whether that was the right strategy or not, I think in a way only time will tell.”
Since the early summer, the UK has had a high level of infection.
This has seen deaths on par with Belgium and Italy, but a lot higher than the European average and almost double that of Germany.
Dr Chapman added: “England has done a good job of getting higher vaccination coverage in the eldest age groups.”
Britain has distributed more than 16 million boosters or third doses – more than almost any other European country.
And now the effect of that is shoring – cases among the over-70s are dropping.
According to the study, infection-acquired immunity ranged from 3 per cent in Norway to 70 percent in Romania.
Vaccine coverage was highest in Portugal and lowest in Slovakia and Romania.
It is estimated that Romania could yet have 70,000 more deaths.
Dr Chapman noted: “The story of the pandemic is that the really high incidence of infections has been in younger age groups, and yet the impact has really been seen in the eldest age group, so despite very high levels of natural immunity, there are still enough susceptible people through lack of vaccination.”
The study predicted that, across Europe, there is potential for 300,000 further deaths and 900,000 more hospital admissions.
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To reach that number they assumed that immunity was fixed, and that the full remaining potential of the pandemic was then experienced by each country.
Dr Chapman admitted it was an oversimplification but it gave countries a good idea of what could happen and the potential to eradicate the virus.
It comes after the boss of vaccine-maker AstraZeneca hailed the UK’s trust in its jab.
While the EU’s medical regulator approved the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for all age ages back in January, the rollout was stopped in several countries across the bloc when they advised that it should not be used for people over the age of 65, pointing to a lack of data on its efficacy for older age groups.
But in March, they U-turned on that policy.
And at that time, the UK’s rollout was miles ahead of the EU’s, having administered millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to all ages.
Pascal Soirot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said: “In the UK, this vaccine was used to vaccinate older people. Whereas in Europe initially people thought the vaccine doesn’t work in older people.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both publicly stated that they thought the AstraZeneca jab should not be used on older people.
French President Emmanuel Macron even labelled the jab as “quasi-ineffective”.
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