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Almost two-thirds of Covid-19 deaths occurring in unvaccinated groups

By David Lynch - 28th Jul 2021

Coronavirus cells in an electron microscope. 3D illustration

Around 59 per cent of Covid-19 deaths during a recent two month period occurred in people who were unvaccinated, according to new data from the HSE. 

The majority of deaths that occurred between 14 May and 13 July where vaccination status was known occurred in unvaccinated groups, an update published on Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) website shows. 

There were 70 deaths where vaccination status was known during the time period. 41 unvaccinated people died, 85 per cent of whom were over the age of 65. 

17 deaths occurred among those who were partially vaccinated, of which 76 per cent were over 65. 

Around 17 per cent or 12 deaths occurred among fully vaccinated individuals, of whom all were over 65 years old. Data also revealed that of the 12, only two people died more than 14 days after being fully vaccinated. 

The information is contained in a Covid-19 update to healthcare staff provided by the HSE Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control Team on 23rd July. 

It emphasised that while the vaccine is safe, it is “not perfect” and that infection prevention control “does not go away because you have been vaccinated”. 

An analysis of patients in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) shows that the age profile of Covid-19 patients is a decade younger than the wave three average. 

“This implies vaccination of the older population has reduced the severity of illness in this group, but the unprotected younger age groups are still at risk of serious illness and hospitalisation.

“An increase in the number of cases increase the chance of both vaccinated and unvaccinated people testing positive for Covid-19. However, this risk is substantially higher in the unvaccinated who are also more at risk of severe disease, hospitalisation and death. We need to get the vaccine to as many as people as possible and control case numbers to help protect people from disease.”

Cases, hospitalisations and ICU numbers are all rising currently, with 75 per cent of cases from 7 to 20 July among those aged 35 and under and just under three per cent of cases among the over 65s. 

The team warned that being close to an infectious person remains “a key risk for spread (droplet and contact routes)”. They added that the risk of airborne spread “is a bigger concern with new variants”.

The update stated that evidence suggests vaccination reduce the risk of virus transmission by people who are vaccinated and urged vaccination among as many people as possible. 

The HSE is documenting the vaccination status of all hospital admissions. All admissions who are non-vaccinated are offered the vaccine. 

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