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Covid-19: Is vaccination roll out reducing cases and deaths in the UK?

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n506 (Published 19 February 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n506

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Re: Covid-19: Is vaccination roll out reducing cases and deaths in the UK?

Dear Editor

There is no conclusive evidence and proof that the current vaccination roll out across the UK is reducing mortality or admissions. Consider, the facts. Firstly a single vaccination dose is insufficient and does not give protection against Sars-cov-2 nor can it prevent one acquiring an infection or transmitting covid-19. Moreover the UK government's altering of the vaccination interval form 3 -12 weeks between vaccinations goes against the manufacturer's user instructions and also compromises the temporary emergency approval as regulatory approval albeit only for a year was under condition vaccination doses were administered as per the trials.

As a previous article in BMJ discussed, the original clinical trials were never designed to show vaccines save lives, reduce hospital admissions, improve health outcomes. For that you need a long term follow up phase IV study/ health economic study.

Consider also over 100,000 have already died during the pandemic due to lack of appropriate public health control measures, PPE, inadequate test track and trace. These comprised the most at risk and vulnerable in the population, many were elderly frail care home residents and hospital patients with underlying conditions. Therefore there are fewer vulnerable at risk people left still alive in the population.

I would argue that any reduction in hospital admissions is mainly due to fewer of these vulnerable at risk people left alive after the devastating epidemic last year, in addition diagnosis and treatment of patients with Covid-19 was in its infancy in 2020, today much has been learnt in diagnosing and treating it with new medication, with improved recovery and hence reduced mortality.

Finally, consider also that hospital readmissions have increased for many of those those patients who have recovered from Covid-19 and have now developed "long Covid" issues or have had their underlying conditions subsequently exacerbated.

References:

https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4037

https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n226

https://thorax.bmj.com/content/early/2020/11/09/thoraxjnl-2020-215818

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 February 2021
Cadogan West
Biomedical Scientist (Retired)
Dublin 2 Ireland