Ever since the Covid-19 vaccines became available, the UKHSA has continued to monitor their effectiveness of them by analysing the health outcomes for millions of vaccinated people and unvaccinated people.
To record how effective or not they are, it looks at how successful they are at protecting against serious disease and death, as these are the main aims of the programme. The UKHSA has also been checking the effectiveness of vaccines to protect against asymptomatic infection, symptomatic disease and the transmission of the virus.
Since the Omicron variant was discovered, the UKHSA has conducted regular studies in line with the above. What do the current results show?
Vaccine Protection Against Death
According to daily statistics, vaccines have been reducing the number of deaths since they were introduced. As omicron is still a newer variant, it is only early figures they have with regards to the effectiveness of vaccines against the variant.
The effectiveness of the vaccines for those over 50 (it’s far too early to have accurate recordings for anyone under 50) is:
Following two doses – 59%
Following the booster dose – 95%
Vaccine Protection Against Serious Disease
When we use the term serious disease, it refers to the more serious Covid-19 symptoms. The kind that requires hospital treatment and further specialist intervention by doctors and medical teams. Following the emergence of Omicron, there has been a noted drop in the effectiveness of two of the vaccines available when used to combat Omicron compared to how well they worked with others. However, the evidence suggests that the booster helps to enhance the effectiveness.
Vaccine Protection Against Asymptomatic Infection and Infection
When discussing how effective vaccines are at protecting against infection, we mean how effective they are at stopping people from catching Covid, whether it’s asymptomatic or not.
The data suggest that again the boosters improve the effectiveness of the vaccine because the original two doses tend to wane over time from 81% effectiveness to 46% in many cases.
Vaccine Protection Against Symptomatic Disease, Also Known as Mild Infection
When we talk about the symptomatic disease, we mean having a mild infection from Covid-19. People with this type of disease often experience all or some of the main symptoms, such as the change or loss of their sense of taste or smell, a continuous cough or a high temperature. It has been proven that if you do not develop an asymptomatic disease you can’t progress to having a serious disease, therefore it is crucial to get protection against the mild infection form.
The evidence suggests that the vaccines continue to protect people against serious disease and death after several months. However, when it comes to protection against symptomatic infection, this tends to wane far quicker.
That being said, according to the latest studies, the vaccines do appear to provide sufficient levels of protection against symptomatic disease. Even if just in the early days following the jab.
Vaccine Ability to Prevent Transmission of Omicron
You’ve probably heard people talk a lot about the level of transmission in recent years, this is basically how well it can be passed between people. When looking at vaccine response and transmission, the aim is to find out if a vaccinated person has less chance of passing the virus on to another person.
Although evidence in the UKHSA studies shows that vaccines can prevent some transmission in the early weeks after receiving the jab, this wanes dramatically over time.
What does that mean? Vaccines have and will continue to provide significant protection against the unnecessary hospitalisation and death of people from the coronavirus. As we noted further up the page, this is the main goal of the vaccination programme.
However, we know that the protection two doses of the vaccine give against the Omicron variant reduces over time. That is why experts and the government are keen for people to get the boosters that may not already have them. This is even considered incredibly important if you have already had Covid-19 because infection-derived immunity is boosted somewhat by the booster.
If you have yet to get your vaccine or the booster and have not yet been infected, it’s important to realise that vaccination is the best and safest way to benefit from protection and avoid the chance of developing a serious illness as a result of the virus.