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Public Health England: No Delta variant deaths among vaccinated under-50s

No fully-vaccinated person under 50 has died from the Delta variant, even though younger age groups make up 90% of cases, a report from Public Health England has shown, reports MedicalBrief.

For the first time, PHE has broken down cases, admissions and deaths for the variant into over-50s and under-50s. The divide shows vaccine effectiveness more clearly because older age groups are far likelier to die than younger people, making it trickier to tease out the benefit when the figures are rolled together.

The latest technical briefing records 92,029 delta cases sequenced since February 1, with 82,458 in the under-50s and 9,571 occurring in the over-50s. As of June 21, there have been 117 deaths in England of people confirmed as having the Delta variant and who died within 28 days of a positive test.

The figures show that only eight deaths occurred in the under-50s, and none in those who had been fully vaccinated, with six of people who had not been vaccinated at all.

More than three-quarters – 78% – of admissions in the under-50s were among unvaccinated people, and just three percent were fully vaccinated.

Of the 109 deaths in the over-50s, 50 had been fully vaccinated, but experts said the vast majority of the over-50s had now had two jabs, so the numbers of older fully vaccinated people dying was expected to rise.

Meaghan Kall, an epidemiologist at PHE, said: “For people who are fully vaxxed but have ‘breakthrough infections’ and go on to be hospitalised, it is very likely that there's a link to why the vaccine wasn't effective and the fact they had severe disease, such as old age or a health condition that affects the immune system.

“A priority is to investigate the characteristics of people who are hospitalised and die post-vaccination, to understand reasons and also tell if Delta is a more severe or different clinical disease.”

The report showed that, as of June 21, a total of 1,320 people have now been admitted to hospital in England with the Delta variant – a rise of 514 on the previous week. Some 902 of the 1,320 were under 50, while 418 were older.

Figures show the death rate for the variant is still very low, at 0.3 percent, compared with the 1.9 percent for the Kent or Alpha variant. However, most cases have occurred within the past 28 days and there will be a lag before admissions translate into deaths.

Taking just Delta cases which occurred more than 28 days ago, the death rate rises to 0.9 percent for the variant, suggesting that there are around 640 deaths already baked into the system that are likely to occur within the next month.

However the number of people with immunity against the virus is continuing to rise, with all over-18s now invited for jabs.

The latest figures show that 82% of the adult population have had at least one jab and 60% have been fully vaccinated, with Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showing that eight in 10 people over the age of 16 now have antibodies to COVID.

Although data show the number of people in England with COVID has risen in a week from one in 520 to one in 440, experts said it appeared that the vaccines were winning the race against the variant.

PHE also said that a further mutated virus, named Lambda (C.37), has been designated as a variant under investigation after six cases were found in Britain. The variant has been linked to a surge in cases in South America, and there are concerns it may be more transmissible and evade immunity.  But PHE said there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective.


Full PHE report (Open access)

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