Thursday, June 17, 2021

UK Freedom Day delay based on obsolete data

Data used by Boris Johnson to delay Freedom Day 'was out of date and underestimated the effectiveness of vaccines' against Indian variant, MPs are told | Daily Mail - Shaun Wooler & Connor Boyd:

June 16, 2021 - "Boris Johnson delayed lockdown based on outdated modelling that is likely to have exaggerated the impact of ending restrictions, MPs have heard.

"Under the most pessimistic scenario, Imperial College London warned Britain could experience 203,824 more deaths by next June. Even more optimistic forecasts from other universities suggested more than 50,000 would die. But the figures were based on old estimates of jab effectiveness, which assumed they would work less well, the Commons science and technology committee heard yesterday.

"Imperial worked on the basis that the AstraZeneca jab would reduce hospitalisations by between 77 and 87 per cent after two doses. But real-world data from Public Health England shows the vaccine is 92 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation. The power of the Pfizer jab was also underplayed by several university groups.

"It means the modelling considered by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and the Prime Minister overestimates the likely number of deaths. Readjusting the models could see Imperial's death estimates fall from 203,824 to 26,854. 

"The PHE figures were made public on Monday, after the modelling to support delaying June 21 – but Dr Susan Hopkins, deputy director of PHE's national infection service, told MPs the Government was aware of the figures since last Friday. Tory MP Aaron Bell told the committee: 'The models that we seem to be relying on to justify the extension of restrictions don't appear to be using [the PHE] numbers'.... 

"Latest analysis by Public Health England estimates that Pfizer's vaccine slashes the risk of being hospitalised by the Indian variant by 96 per cent after two doses and AstraZeneca's jab cuts it by 92 per cent.... PHE's study of 14,000 cases of the Indian 'Delta' variant also found a single dose of either vaccine provides roughly 75 per cent protection against being admitted to hospital three weeks after getting the jab. It suggests the vaccines work just as well at reducing Covid hospital rates from the Indian variant – which spooked ministers into delaying the final easing of lockdown – as they do against the previously dominant Kent version.... 

"Officials had always believed the jabs would work well against the variant but there were growing doubts after multiple studies found it made vaccines significantly weaker at preventing infections.... This, combined with the fact the Indian variant is around 60 per cent more transmissible than the Kent version, has led to England's June 21 Freedom Day being delayed by a month.  

"SAGE warned there could be up to 500 Covid deaths a day if Boris Johnson were to press ahead with next week's unlocking. But the group's models were based on older, more pessimistic data about the Indian variant."

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