Vaccines can reduce the risk of COVID-19 disease by 20 times, but age affects this likelihood even more. This does not mean that the vaccine is useless – without it, mortality would be higher.
More vaccinated people die from COVID-19 than unvaccinated people, according to a recent report from the England Department of Health. The report shows that 163 of 257 people (63.4%) who died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus between February 1 and June 21 received at least one dose of the vaccine.
To understand why this happened, I propose to conduct a simple thought experiment: Imagine that everyone in the world is now fully vaccinated with drugs that are excellent, but cannot save all lives. Some people who contract COVID-19 will die anyway. But 100% of those entering hospitals will be fully vaccinated. Although vaccines protect against the severe course of coronavirus infection, they do not protect against other diseases.
The risk of death from COVID increases with age. Scientists have shown that it doubles every 7 years of life. For example, if you compare 35-year-old and 70-year-old people, it turns out that the risk of death of the latter when infected with coronavirus is 32 times higher than that of the former. An unvaccinated 70-year-old can die from covid 32 times more often than an unvaccinated 35-year-old. This dramatic change in the risk profile with age means that even excellent vaccines fail to reduce the risk of death in older people below the level of some younger age groups.
However, the 20-fold reduction in risk afforded by the vaccine is not enough to offset the 32-fold increase in risk at age 35 years. Given the same risk of infection, we still expect more double-vaccinated 70-year-olds to die from COVID-19 than unvaccinated 35-year-olds. This simple calculation has its own nuances.
The fact that more vaccinated people die than unvaccinated people does not compromise the safety or effectiveness of vaccines. In fact, this is exactly what scientists expect from excellent vaccines that have already saved tens of thousands of lives. The drugs do reduce the risk of severe symptoms of the disease, but the elderly and patients at risk, even with vaccinations, should take all precautions to maintain their health.
Based on materials from The Conversation.