Global figures show Covid-19 vaccines help you survive

11 July 2021 - 00:00
By claire keeton AND Claire Keeton
More than 3-billion doses of vaccines had been administered by Thursday, the WHO said.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES/ALAISTER RUSSELL More than 3-billion doses of vaccines had been administered by Thursday, the WHO said.

If you have any doubts about getting a Covid-19 vaccination, consider the patients in intensive care beds in countries such as Canada, the US, the UK and Israel.

Nearly all of them have one thing in common — they have not had a Covid jab. People who have had jabs are no longer going to hospital or dying, studies and doctors across the world say. In SA, Discovery Health says hospitalisation has dropped by 96% among those who have been fully vaccinated with two shots of the Pfizer vaccine.

A single dose, after 21 days, halves the likelihood of going to hospital and reduces the risk of infection by 47%, said Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach.

“These findings are congruent with international experience and highly encouraging from a South African perspective,” he said at the launch of a mass vaccination site at Cape Town International Convention Centre this week.

Of the health-care workers given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine under the Sisonke implementation study, very few got Covid. Of those who did, 94% had mild symptoms, said co-principal investigator professor Glenda Gray.

This contrasts with the first wave of infections last year when hundreds of health-care workers in SA died of Covid-19.

Ghana was one of the first countries in Africa to administer Covid vaccines and the jabs have reduced hospital admissions, according to Dr Christian Owoo, a Covid case management co-ordinator in the West African nation. The proportion of patients who “had been vaccinated and presented to ICU with severe critical disease is much lower than those who have not been vaccinated”, Owoo, an intensivist and anaesthetist, told the journal Nature. Worldwide, the number of daily deaths dropped to its lowest level since October this week despite soaring infection rates driven by the Delta variant, according to the World Health Organisation.

More than 3-billion doses of vaccines had been administered by Thursday, the WHO said. Countries including the UK, US and Canada, which started administering vaccines seven months ago, now have scientific data on how much protection the shots provide against death.

In the UK, new infections have risen to a rolling seven-day average of about 25,000 a day due to the Delta variant, and 51% of the population has vaccine protection. The last time the rate of new cases was this high, relatively few people had been vaccinated, and 30 times more people were dying. In the US in mid-January, more than 4,000 people were dying daily. Now, with nearly half the population vaccinated (48%), the toll was down to 345 on Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in the US released a report last month showing that from December to May deaths among over-65s had dropped 66% and hospital admissions by 65%. In Canada, 39% of the population has had a jab, and hospitalisations and deaths among those vaccinated have dropped to a handful of cases.

In Israel, where nearly 60% of the population have had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, vaccination has provided more than 90% protection against hospitalisation and severe Covid. The Delta variant has increased the risk of infection and symptoms, the Israeli health ministry reported this week. But the shots still provide protection against death.