(Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman)

The ongoing mass vaccination drive against Covid-19 has prevented over 6,000 deaths in England up until the end of February, a latest data revealed.

The Public Health England (PHE) study released on Thursday (March 25) indicates that the vaccination programme has prevented 6,100 deaths amongst those who are 70 years or over. From December 8 to the end of January 2021, over four million vaccine doses were given to this age cohort alone.

The analysis compared the observed number of deaths with the number of deaths that would have been expected, if the vaccine hadn’t been given during this time period.

To allow for the time taken to develop an immune response to vaccination, the analysis assumed it would take 31 days before the effect of vaccination on deaths is observed.

Using this method, PHE estimates that around 6,100 deaths were prevented to the end of February – 5,900 in those aged 80 and over and 200 in those aged 70 to 79.

Expected deaths with Covid-19 were estimated using real-world data on how effective the vaccines are at preventing death and vaccine uptake.

The results are very similar to those estimated by Warwick University which is also published in the report, which used a different approach to model the number of deaths with and without the vaccination programme.

Warwick University’s estimate suggested that the programme has prevented around 6,600 deaths across all age groups.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Vaccines save lives. This work shows vaccines have already saved over 6,000 lives among the most vulnerable in our society. These results give us hope and remind us about the importance of getting the jab as soon as we are eligible.

“Millions of people will soon be getting their second doses – giving them the strongest possible protection against Covid-19. I urge everyone to come forward for the vaccine when it’s your turn, to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

Dr Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at PHE, said: “We have shown previously that the Covid-19 vaccinations are hugely effective at stopping people from getting the infection. This new analysis calculates how many lives they have saved in the first few months of the vaccine programme, and with every additional day more lives have and will be saved. The vaccines have an excellent safety record and I would encourage anyone who is offered a vaccine to take it as soon as possible.

“While the vaccines have a striking impact on mortality, we don’t yet know how much these vaccines will reduce the risk of you passing Covid-19 onto others. Even if you have been vaccinated, it is really important that you continue to act like you have the virus, practise good hand hygiene and stay at home.

“If future evidence shows that vaccines do help to reduce transmission, then it is likely that an even higher number of deaths will have been prevented”.

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