UK: Infection Rates for Vaccinated Aged 40-79 Hit Double the Rates in the Unvaccinated

Another week, another Vaccine Surveillance report (now published by the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the successor to Public Health England), and with it more worrying news on the vaccine front.

Infection rates in the double-vaccinated compared to the unvaccinated continue to rise, meaning unadjusted vaccine effectiveness continues to decline. Infection rates are now higher in the double-vaccinated compared to the unvaccinated by 124% in those in their 40s, 103% in those in their 50s and 60s and 101% in those in their 70s, corresponding to unadjusted vaccine effectiveness estimates of minus-124%, minus-103% and minus-101% respectively. For those over 80 the unadjusted vaccine effectiveness is minus-34% while for those in their 30s it is minus-27%. For 18-29 year-olds it is 25%, so still positive but low, while for under-18s it is 90%, the only age group showing high efficacy. Vaccine effectiveness against emergency hospital admission and death continues to hold up, though with some indication of gradual slide, particularly in older age groups (see below). (For definitions and limitations, see here.)

The UKHSA has continued to receive criticism for publishing this data, with claims that the figures used for the unvaccinated population are unreliable and likely too high, artificially suppressing the infection rate and vaccine effectiveness. Cambridge statistician Professor David Spiegelhalter put out a scathing tweet on these lines on Friday, but he didn’t elaborate on his claim or link to an article explaining it further.

Completely unacceptable that UKHSA put out absurd statistics showing case-rates higher in vaxxed than non-vaxxed (Fig 2), when just an artefact of using hopelessly biased NIMS popn estimates. Feeding conspiracy theorists worldwide. — David Spiegelhalter (@d_spiegel) October 22, 2021

Professors Norman Fenton and Martin Neil have argued that in fact the PHE/UKHSA data may underestimate the number of unvaccinated rather than overestimate them, which would have the reverse effect.