COVID-19 Mortality Rates Show Varied Trends Among Vaccinated Groups in England

England’s latest data on COVID-19 mortality rates, categorized by vaccination status, offers insights into the impact of vaccinations on mortality rates between April 2021 and May 2023. The data reveals diverse trends among different vaccinated groups, shedding light on the effectiveness of vaccination strategies.

Key Observations:

  1. Booster Effect: Since the introduction of booster doses in September 2021, individuals who had received a third dose or booster at least 21 days ago consistently displayed lower age-standardized mortality rates (ASMRs) for COVID-19-related deaths. This suggests that boosters have contributed to reduced mortality rates.
  2. Fourth Dose Impact: Following the introduction of fourth doses or extra boosters in spring 2022, those who had received at least a fourth dose or extra booster exhibited lower COVID-19 mortality rates compared to unvaccinated individuals and those with fewer doses.
  3. Vulnerable Groups: Despite the positive impact of fourth doses, individuals who had received a fourth dose or extra booster displayed higher ASMRs for COVID-19 deaths compared to those who had received a third dose or booster. This could be attributed to the fourth doses or extra boosters being administered primarily to vulnerable populations.
  4. First and Second Doses: ASMRs for individuals who had received first and second vaccine doses were similar to those for unvaccinated people starting from March 2022 onwards. However, confidence limits for these groups were wide due to lower populations in these vaccination categories.
  5. Limitations: While ASMRs account for age structure and population size, other factors such as underlying health conditions can influence mortality rates. Additionally, the ASMRs do not provide measures of vaccine effectiveness; they indicate differences in mortality rates across groups.

The data also reveals that non-COVID-19 mortality rates were slightly lower for individuals who had received a third dose or booster compared to unvaccinated people in the latter half of 2022 and 2023. However, the rates for first and second doses were more likely affected by confounding factors during this period, as these individuals did not receive boosters and therefore differed from the general population.

This report underscores the complex interplay of vaccination status, age, and health conditions in influencing COVID-19 mortality rates. The analysis serves as a valuable resource for understanding the evolving dynamics of the pandemic and the impact of vaccination strategies on mortality outcomes.