Early data on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness in England

Results from the SIREN study published yesterday bring us some much-needed good news: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is very effective in preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in healthcare workers!

The SIREN study is a huge prospective cohort study of more than 23,000 healthcare staff working in the NHS. Enrolled staff are tested regularly for SARS-CoV-2 infection and provide individual risk factor data (including, of course, vaccination status). Vaccine coverage in the staff enrolled in the SIREN study was 89% by 05/02/2021. And the findings are…a single dose of the vaccine demonstrated vaccine effectiveness of 72% after 21 days, and 86% seven day after two doses.

There is some important information in the study about variables associated with vaccine uptake. Vaccine uptake was significant lower in staff with a previous COVID-19 infection (unsurprising – although even staff who have had COVID-19 should be vaccinated and this will become more important as more variants emerge), female gender, age <35 years, being a porter, security guard, or midwife, Black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, and living in more deprived neighbourhoods. The associations with female gender and age <35 years may well be linked to the current recommendation for women who are pregnant not to have the vaccine (unless they are at high risk). It’s sad to see lower uptake in BAME staff, who we know are at an increased risk of a poor clinical outcome if they do develop COVID-19. As for those living in deprived neighbourhoods… I’m afraid it’s just another example of infectious diseases preying on the deprived in our society.

In addition, also yesterday, PHE yesterday released a report summarising the early data on COVID-19 vaccination effectiveness in England. The good news continues, as the early indicators are that the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine are effective in the prevention of serious disease, hospitalisation, and death in older people living in the UK.

So, don’t delay – get your vaccine as soon as it’s available to you (I am probably preaching to the choir here…!).

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