Despite an increase in cases, deaths are significantly lower in countries with high COVID-19 vaccination coverage
In recent months, there has been an increase in the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with countries in Western Europe setting off new waves. However, despite an increase in the number of cases, the number of deaths has been significantly lower in all of these countries with high COVID-19 vaccination coverage.
On October 21, 2021, India took a milestone in administration 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses. As of November 3, 2021, 1.07 billion doses have been administered in India. Data according to the COWIN Dashboard shows that around 73.79 crore of people received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and around 33.54 crore received both doses. This implies that around 24% of the Indian population is fully vaccinated while 36% of the adult population is fully vaccinated.
While India ranks next to China in terms of the quantum of vaccine doses administered, coverage in terms of the share of the population vaccinated is lower than in a few other countries. In the first story of this two-part series, we look at immunization trends in a few selected countries that have higher immunization rates. The data comes from the information available on OurWorldinData.org, which gathered information from official and reliable sources in the respective countries. Data is as of October 31, 2021.
Almost 58% of the US population is fully vaccinated
The United States has the highest population in the world after China and India. Even in terms of the total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, it ranks after these two countries. As of the end of October 2021, a total of 42.2 crore of vaccine doses had been administered in the country. Of its total population, 66.5%, or about 22.15 crore, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 19.24 crore of the population, i.e. about 57% of the population have received both doses and are fully vaccinated. As of May 2021, the above citizens 12 years are eligible for the vaccine in the United States.
The United States has also authorized booster injections COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech) since September 2021. According to available information, approximately 1.86 crore of booster doses are also administered in the United States. The 10-day average suggests that the United States is administering approximately 9-10 doses of lakh vaccine per day. The number of doses administered per day increased during the period.
On the other hand, trends over the past and a half months show a drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the country. Currently, around 60,000 to 70,000 new cases of COVID-19 are reported per day (10-day average). The peak before this decline was around 1.7 lakh cases per day. This is part of a separate 5th wave in the United States. The largest daily peak was seen in wave 3, around the start of 2021, with 2.5 to 3 lakh cases per day. The United States had only vaccinated about 2% of its population by then. The fifth wave follows a period of decline in the number of vaccine doses administered. Overall, it can be concluded that vaccination prevented the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic as evidenced by previous waves. According to a few reports, the 4th and 5th waves of COVID-19 in the United States are less fatal, with most of the reported cases being those who did not take the vaccine. In the third wave in early 2021, the daily death toll peaked at around 4.5 thousand. The peak during the 5e wave was about 2-2.5 thousand.
Negligible difference between single dose and fully immunized population in developed countries
Western European countries, especially Italy, France, Spain, etc. were among the first to be severely affected by COVID-19, outside of China. Death rates in the first wave were very high in these countries, which eventually declined in the waves that followed. Immunization rates in these countries are higher than in most other countries in the world. However, the population of these countries is not as high as China, India and the United States. Even in the case of developed Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, vaccination rates are higher.
The data indicate a significant trend in these countries, namely that there is a negligible difference between the share of the population that received only one dose of vaccine and the share of the population that is fully vaccinated.
Higher vaccination rates in Western European countries helped reduce the number of deaths
There has been a recurrence of new waves of COVID-19 in a few Western European countries despite high vaccination coverage. In countries like Spain, the number of new cases of COVID-19 has also been higher than before. But the high vaccination rates in these countries have kept the deaths minimal. Data suggests that the number of deaths has dropped significantly in these countries. Here is an overview of some Western European countries:
The UK has the fourth highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world and the highest in Europe. Currently, the country is going through the final stages of a separate 5th wave. The highest peak in terms of the number of new cases occurred in early January-2021, which was the third wave in the UK with around 60,000 cases per day at its peak. At that time, only about 5% of the population received a single dose of vaccination. In July 2021, the country began to see an increase in the number of new cases of COVID-19 even though 50% of the population was already vaccinated.
New variants and mutations of COVID-19 are cited as reasons for the increase in the number of cases. By the end of October 2021, around 73% of the UK population had received at least one dose, while 67% of the population had been fully vaccinated. About 11.6% of the population received a booster dose in the UK.
However, despite the increase in new cases of COVID-19, the vaccine has been effective in drastically reducing the number of deaths. At the height of the third wave, there were more than 1.5 thousand deaths per day. In recent waves of COVID-19, the number of daily deaths, even at its peak, was only around 180 to 200.
The number of deaths in the first wave in France was around 1.5 to 1.7 thousand per day at its peak. During the second wave, deaths were around 800 per day at their peak. Since the peak of the second wave in November 2020, the number of cases is gradually decreasing in France.
An increase in the number of new cases of COVID-19 has recently been observed from August 2021 with a peak of around 30,000 cases per day and deaths of 140 to 150 per day. Vaccination in France started after the second wave and by August 2021, that is, at the time of the last wave, around 66% of the population was vaccinated with at least one dose and half of the population was completely vaccinated. At the end of October 2021, around 68% of the population is fully vaccinated.
As in the case of the UK, despite new waves causing the number of new COVID-19 cases to increase, the number of deaths has dropped significantly.
This trend has also been observed in other Western European countries which have also reported high vaccination coverage.
In Germany, the death toll in the recent wave was around 100 per day, compared to around 1.2 thousand daily deaths during the peak of the second wave before large-scale vaccination in the country. So far, around 66% of the population is fully vaccinated in Germany.
The recent wave in Italy has resulted in significantly lower numbers than the 2sd & 3rd waves, with much lower mortality (50 deaths per day on average). Spain, which has fully immunized nearly 80% of its population, recorded very few deaths, even during the outbreak of 5e wave between July and August 2021. At that time, around 40% of the population had already been fully vaccinated and 55% were receiving at least one dose.
Trends highlight the positive impact of vaccination
As the data indicates, most countries that reported high immunization coverage were better equipped to deal with new waves of COVID-19, with a reduction in hospitalizations and deaths despite an increase in the number of new cases. In almost all of these countries with high immunization coverage, the number of deaths has fallen dramatically.
Besides the high proportion of the vaccinated population, another significant aspect is the negligible difference between the population who received at least one dose and those who are fully vaccinated unlike India where there is a significant difference.
In the following story, we’ll explore trends in a few other countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.