COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Prevented 17,000 Deaths’: Australian Scientists

The study relied on mathematical modelling using government data, with authors admitting the study had some limitations.
COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Prevented 17,000 Deaths’: Australian Scientists
(Karn Buppunhasamai/Shutterstock)
Monica O’Shea

The COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is estimated to have “prevented 17,760 deaths,” according to Australian researchers.

Their study suggests that mortality would have been much greater if the population had not been quickly vaccinated, the researchers claim.

Scientists from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and Monash University said without a vaccination campaign, there could have been more than 21,000 deaths.

However, the researchers said if NSW had vaccinated the population sooner, even more deaths would have been prevented.

“If NSW had fully vaccinated its approximately 2.9 million 50 plus residents earlier (by July 28, 2021), only 440 of the total 3,495 observed 50 plus deaths would have been averted. Up to July 9, 2022, the booster campaign prevented 1,860 deaths,” scientists said.

The researchers continued that without the vaccination campaign, 21,250 COVID-19 deaths among individuals aged 50 and over could have taken place in the state.

“Altogether over the study period, there would have been an additional 17,760 deaths upon taking into account waning immunity and susceptible depletion,” scientists said.

For the method, researchers drew on data from NSW Health to conduct mathematical modelling on the number of COVID-19 deaths with no vaccine dose, one dose, two doses, and three doses.

“The death rate amongst the unvaccinated ru(t) is highest, highlighting the increased vulnerability of this sub-population to COVID-19 mortality,” the researchers said.

The study found that the “unvaccinated” had a 7.7 times higher average weekly death rate than those who were vaccinated among individuals over 50.

“Even more exaggerated, the unvaccinated had an 11.2 times higher average weekly death rate than those who had the booster among people aged 50 plus,” scientists claimed.

They concluded that Australia’s vaccination campaign successfully reduced mortality in 2022, relative to other scenarios.

“The success was attributable to the Australian public’s high levels of engagement with vaccination in the face of new SARS-COV-2 variants, and because high levels of vaccination coverage (full and booster) were achieved in the period shortly before the major Omicron outbreak of 2022,” researchers said.

Study Limitations

The researchers acknowledge the limitations and challenges of their study such as age and comorbidity impacting their results.
“The study was restricted to the single 50+ age group. Lack of data availability prevented analysis of finer age groups,” scientists said.

However, the scientists said the deaths prevented by vaccination may have been “under-estimated” and conservative” due to herd immunity impact.

There were also other limitations related to data-driven mathematical modelling, including the dynamics of transmission. Despite these limitations, the study provides valuable insights into the impact of vaccination on mortality.

“For some scenarios the data-driven model used here is reasonable, and in others provides mortality estimates that we can at least conclude that the total deaths averted are conservative or lower bounds,” researchers said.

“It also provides an overview of deaths by vaccination status, and the controversial fate of the unvaccinated which is often debated.”

Reacting to the study, Deakin University Associate Professor in Epidemiology Hassan Valley said the authors had been “fully transparent” about the various limitations of the study, and highlighted that further work needs to be done when better data becomes available.

“Despite the fact that NSW had the highest quality of data available in Australia, there were limitations of this data and limitations in this study that require that the estimates produced be considered approximations,” Mr. Valley said.

“Without going into the technical aspects of this study, the overall strategy was to use a simple modelling approach to examine these and other questions.”

He added the study’s findings are a welcome contribution to the literature and provide “supportive evidence” for the success of the Australian vaccination rollout.

Italian Study Found 31.2 Percent of Vaccinated Individuals Had Neurological Side Effects

A separate study published in the journal Vaccines in late 2023 found around one-third of vaccinated individuals had neurological side effects, including tremors, headaches insomnia, and muscle spasms.

Researchers discovered around 31.2 percent of the vaccinated developed neurological complications, especially from the AstraZeneca vaccination.

“Approximately 31.2 percent of our sample developed post-vaccination neurological complications, particularly with ChAdOx1nCov-19,” the study stated.

“A vulnerable clinical profile emerged, where over 40 percent of the symptomatic people showed comorbidities in their clinical histories. Defining the neurological risk profile, we found an increased risk for ChAdOx1nCov-19 of tremors.”

Further, the scientists highlighted that pertinent questions have emerged from vaccination campaigns against COVID-19, such as the risks, benefits, and optimal timing of vaccinations to ensure effective immune system response.

Services Australia Delivers $16.9 Million In Compensation

Meanwhile, Services Australia processed 238 claims worth more than $16.9 million (US$10.9 million) related to vaccine injuries as of November 2023.
The revelation can be found in the government’s submission (pdf) to the Australian government’s COVID-19 inquiry.

Services Australia is offering a COVID-19 vaccine claims scheme in Australia to compensate for losses due to harm from the vaccine.

The agency’s claims website says, like all medicines, vaccines can have side effects.

“In rare cases, some people may suffer a severe impact after a COVID-19 vaccine,” the government states.

“We have implemented a claims scheme for people who suffer a moderate to severe impact following an adverse reaction to a TGA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.”