With high a vaccination rate – by 3 July 2021, 67% of the UK population had had at least one shot – and a steep resurgence in cases, the UK is the first nation to really test the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines. And the insights are significant.
In the UK a project called ZOE is capturing a large amount of patient data via an app. This data is revealing valuable insights on Covid-19 vaccines as well as other aspects of the disease. The data is logged in realtime and is focussed on patients’ symptoms. The video above explains the data and the text below offers a summary.
On 5 July 2021, the ZOE database estimated that there were 32,239 new Covid-19 cases in the UK, a figure that has risen steeply since the beginning of June 2021. No other highly vaccinated nation has yet experienced such a steep rise in cases since vaccines were rolled out.
So what is the UK data telling us?
Holiday makers are creating Covid-19 hotspots
Favourite British summer destinations have seen spikes in case numbers. The ZOE data shows rapid rises in case numbers in places like Cornwall, Brighton, Devon and Bournemouth. It is also possible that UK holiday makers may be behind the Covid case spikes seen in Portugal and Majorca.
Deaths are not rising despite rising new cases
In the UK, cases started to rise again in May 2021 and really took off in June 2021. However, Covid-19 deaths have remained low and broadly flat during this period.
The data suggest that the link between the number of people catching the disease and the number dying from it has been broken. Vaccines seem to be keeping people alive and out of hospital.
Vaccines don’t always stop people catching Covid-19
The data suggests that the fully vaccinated have 1/7 of the chance of catching Covid-19 compared to someone who is unvaccinated. This observation is based on comparing test positivity. 4% of those completely unvaccinated had Covid-19, while 1.9% of those with one dose tested positive and only 0.6% of those who had received two shots tested positive. According to the ZOE data an estimated 2,000 fully vaccinated people a day are getting infected in the UK. So the vaccines are working but not they’re not perfect. However, they are keeping most people out of hospital and preventing death.
The number of people with Long Covid is increasing
The ZOE study defines Long Covid as a level of debilitation that stops someone from carrying on life as normal for more than 12 weeks. From their database, which includes 1.2 million doctors’ records, they estimate that around 1.2% to 4.8% of those who catch Covid-19 will develop Long Covid. The odds are 1.2% at the age of 20 and 4.8% among the middle aged. Additional risk factors include being female, suffering from asthma and having poor health.
Vaccines help with Long Covid
Vaccines significantly reduce the chance of catching Covid in the first place. In addition, the ZOE data suggests that even vaccinated people who catch Covid have a 30% lower chance of getting Long Covid.
Delta variant symptoms different from previous variants
Initial symptoms with Delta are more like a cold. In addition, the symptoms vary depending on whether a person has been vaccinated or not.
The key takeaway from the UK ZOE Covid data is probably that vaccines keep people out of hospital, save lives and reduce Long Covid even if they don’t completely stop people catching the disease.
By 30 June 2021, 51% of Switzerland’s population had received at least one dose of vaccine and 36% were fully vaccinated. The same percentages in the UK were 66% and 49%.
Zoe website (in English)