Note that one definition of “cohort” brings a negative connotation, a ‘conspirator or accomplice’ – Mick Raven
As Victorians face another COVID-19 surge, mortality data shows how vaccinations are saving lives
21 Jul 2022
Newly released mortality data shows one-third of Victorians who died with COVID-19 in the first half of this year were unvaccinated, despite the unvaccinated cohort making up just 4 per cent of the state’s over-12 population.
- The median age of the 2,171 people whose deaths were recorded as COVID-related is 85
- More than a third of those who died had received no vaccine doses
- Experts say the data is unsurprising but supports what is known about the effectiveness of the existing vaccines
Between January 1 and June 28 there were 2,171 deaths in the state related to COVID-19, just over half of the more than 4,200 such deaths recorded in Victoria since the pandemic began.
The data — provided to the ABC by Victoria’s health department — showed that 799 people (37 per cent) who died during that period of time with COVID-19 had received no vaccine doses, while just 58 (3 per cent) of those who died had received four vaccine doses.
Those who had not received a third vaccine dose made up 72 per cent those who died with, or due to, COVID-19.
University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely described the data as “interesting and unsurprising”.
“The effectiveness of vaccines at preventing death is exactly as we expected — huge,” Professor Blakely said.
He said using a basic calculation, the data showed a person having one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine reduced their chance of dying by 93 per cent, compared with a person who had received no doses.
“There’s more good news: If you’ve have three or four doses, your protection will be even higher than that,” he added.
Vaccines specifically targeting the Omicron variant are being developed, however, the existing vaccines are still highly effective.
The official advice from Victoria’s health department remains that staying up to date with vaccines will “significantly reduce your chance of going to hospital, going to ICU or dying from COVID-19”.
Professor Blakely said people should not wait and were better off getting a booster COVID-19 dose if they were eligible for one.
“They still work very well to stop you being hospitalised and to prevent death,” he said.
“They’re not as great at stopping any infection, but they do dampen transmission and, right at the moment, we’re dealing with a surge of COVID.”
Deakin University epidemiology chair Catherine Bennett said the data illustrated the power of vaccines.
“If people have a booster now it doesn’t mean people can’t have a booster later,” she said.
“It’s not to say you have one or the other, you can — potentially — have both.”
Dr Trauer said it was important not to lose sight of the importance of vaccine dose timing, not just the cumulative number.
“Over the coming years, as we see that this is increasingly becoming an endemic infection that people get exposed to every year, it’s not going to be about have you had six doses or eight doses since the pandemic started,” he said.
“It’s going to be, going into a wave of transmission — if that’s caused by a variant or a winter wave — ‘Have you been vaccinated in the previous six or 12 months?’
“That’s more going to be the question to determine risk of dying when you get re-exposed.”
Professor Bennett said understanding more about the remaining unvaccinated cohort could help curb the effects of the current wave.
Professor Blakely said modelling predicted the surge of cases would not peak for another month, but people should remember that their actions were powerful.
“We control this. As a civic society, we can do things,” he said.
“Getting a third dose if you haven’t already had it, getting a fourth dose if you’re eligible, wearing masks when you’re in the supermarket.
Jezzz (slaps forehead) – Mick Raven
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