Acute Care Edinburgh

Characteristics and risk of COVID-19-related death in fully vaccinated people in Scotland

Vaccines are highly effective in preventing COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths.1, 2 COVID-19-related deaths in fully vaccinated individuals have, however, been reported. To inform public health strategy and vaccination policy, it is vital to characterise these post-vaccination COVID-19 fatalities.

Age and Health Factors in Breakthrough Deaths

New findings have identified the characteristics most associated with people who have died from Covid-19 despite being double vaccinated.

Cause of Death

Of the 3.2 million people who had received two vaccine doses in Scotland by 18 August 2021, 236 had died with Covid-19. Of these, the majority were around 80 years of age and 62 per cent were male. As well as Covid-19, 97 per cent of the group had at least one other cause listed on their death certificate. The most common causes were chronic heart or kidney disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and/or a fast or irregular heartbeat.

Data Analysis

The study analysed those fully vaccinated with the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines. There were no deaths registered during the study period in the smaller group of people vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine.

The EAVE II project tracks the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland in near real-time using a dataset of all 5.4 million people registered with a GP in Scotland, which is around 98 per cent of the Scottish population.

The project is led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, working in collaboration with the Universities of St. Andrews, Strathclyde and Aberdeen; Public Health Scotland; and the West of Scotland Specialist Virology Centre.

The results are published as a research letter in The Lancet. Research letters are externally peer-reviewed, and their findings are usually preliminary or exploratory.

 Our work has consistently found vaccines overall are effective in preventing deaths and hospital admissions from Covid-19. This whole country analysis - one of the first of its kind in the world- does unfortunately show that people do die of the virus despite being vaccinated with two doses.

Professor Aziz SheikhEAVE II Study Lead

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