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Sunday, October 24, 2021

In brutal second wave mortality, vaccines made all the difference

According to the latest data, 10.09 crore persons in the 60 years and above category have got their first dose, and 5.58 crore are fully vaccinated.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi |
Updated: September 30, 2021 12:15:20 pm
A medic administers a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Srinagar on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)

Reaffirming the critical role of Covid-19 vaccines in protection against death, health ministry data show that in the first seven weeks of the second wave of the pandemic, the 60-plus age group reported about 121 weekly deaths per million among the non-vaccinated, 2.6 weekly deaths per million among those who had received their first dose, and 1.76 weekly deaths per million among those who were fully vaccinated.

The data, being collated for a vaccine tracker which is to be launched soon, is significant, especially in the backdrop of public health experts expressing concern over a possible surge in cases following the festival season in October. Moreover, about 24 per cent of the estimated 60-plus population, identified as the most vulnerable group, are still unvaccinated.

According to the latest data, 10.09 crore persons in the 60 years and above category have got their first dose, and 5.58 crore are fully vaccinated.

On September 9, the health ministry released the first real-time data of India’s vaccination drive, which showed near-total efficacy in preventing serious illness and death. The data for four months (April 18-August 15) showed that vaccine efficacy in preventing deaths was 96.6 per cent after the first dose and 97.5 per cent after the second dose. A total of 2,52,873 deaths were reported in this period.

The vaccine efficacy was calculated on the basis of granular data on the weekly deaths per million, based on the ICMR’s Covid-19 testing data, vaccination data updated on the Co-Win platform, and the health ministry’s official death count.

An analysis of this granular data showed a huge difference in the absolute number of deaths that were reported among the unvaccinated, as compared to those who were vaccinated, even during the peak of the second wave.

Consider this:

* Between the weeks ending April 18 and May 30, the 60 years and above age group reported an average of 121.21 weekly deaths per million among the non-vaccinated. The figure dropped to 2.64 weekly deaths per million among those who had received the first dose; and 1.76 weekly deaths per million among those who were fully vaccinated.

* In the same period, the 45-59 years age group reported an average of 39.9 weekly deaths per million among the non-vaccinated; 0.87 weekly deaths per million among those who had received the first dose; and 0.42 weekly deaths per million among those who were fully vaccinated.

* In the 18-44 years age group, there was an average of 5.6 weekly deaths per million among the non-vaccinated; 0.6 weekly deaths per million among those who had received the first dose; and 0.1 weekly deaths per million among those who were fully vaccinated.

Significantly, this was the period when the country was reporting a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines, and only 13 per cent of the estimated adult population had received the first dose.

The vaccination drive picked up in the beginning of June. In the week ending June 6, the first dose coverage stood at 15 per cent; it touched 32 per cent in the week ending August 15.

In this period, there was a significant drop in the number of deaths being reported among the non-vaccinated. Data analysis showed almost full protection against death among those who had received even a single dose of the vaccine.

* Between the weeks ending June 6 and August 15, the 60 years and above age group reported an average of 30.04 weekly deaths per million among the non-vaccinated; 0.46 weekly deaths per million among those who had received their first dose; and 0.33 weekly deaths per million among those who were fully vaccinated.

* In the same period, the 45-59 years age group reported an average of 8.41 weekly deaths per million among the non-vaccinated; 0.11 weekly deaths per million among those who had received their first shot; and 0.10 weekly deaths per million among the fully vaccinated.

* The 18-44 years age group reported an average of 1.08 weekly deaths per million among the non-vaccinated; 0.02 weekly deaths per million among those who had received their first shot; and 0.06 weekly deaths per million among those who were fully vaccinated.

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