A major French study has shown that vaccination is highly effective in reducing severity of COVID-19 cases in older people, including the Delta variant.
The research published on Monday that looked at 22.6 million people over 50 years old showed that those who received their jabs were 90 percent less likely to be hospitalised or die. The focus of the study was the prevention of COVID-19 complications and death, not infections.
Epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik, also director of the Epi-Phare structure, which associates Insurance- disease (Cnam) and the Medicines Agency (ANSM), oversaw the research.
French researchers confirmed their results corresponded with that of the US, the UK and Israel but highlighted it is the largest study of its kind to date.
They compared results of 11 million vaccinated people with 11 million unvaccinated subjects, using data collected earlier in December 2020, when France initiated its vaccination campaign.
They matched the unvaccinated person with a vaccinated counterpart from the same region, age and sex, and tracked the vaccinated person’s second jab to 20 July this year.
According to Epi-Phare, an independent medicines safety research group working closely with the French government, a vaccinated subjects’ risk of severe COVID-19 was reduced by 90 percent, starting 14 days after the second dosage.
Vaccination against the Delta variant appears to be nearly as effective with 84 percent protection for persons 75 and older and 92 percent protection for those aged 50 to 75. However, that estimate is only based on a month of data, since the variant only became prominent in France in June.
The study covers immunisation with AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines but not Jannsen which was approved much later and is significantly less common in France.
For now, the authors estimate that “no evidence points to a loss of immunization that supports the need for a third dose of the vaccine for the entire population.”
The findings also suggest that vaccination protection against severe COVID-19 did not wear off throughout the course of research which lasted up to five months.
The “main public health objective,” according to Zureik, is to avoid the most serious infections. “An epidemic without deadly diseases is no longer an epidemic,” he said.
The report concludes: “All the vaccines [studied] against COVID-19 are highly effective and have a major effect on the reductions of serious forms of COVID-19 among people aged 50 years and older living at the current time in France. The continuing research by Epi-Phare will allow us to measure the evolution of this effectiveness over a longer period and better establish the effects on the Delta variant.”
Photo: A World Divided: Global Vaccine Trade and Production by WITA available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has been resized.