Vaccinated people dying of Covid have average age of 85 and five underlying illnesses

Booster jabs - Huw Fairclough/Getty Images Europe
Booster jabs - Huw Fairclough/Getty Images Europe

People who are vaccinated against Covid are highly unlikely to die of the virus unless they are very old and already ill, a study in Italy has shown.

The data adds more pressure on the UK Government to speed up the booster programme for protecting double jabbed older and vulnerable people who will be beginning to lose immunity.

Analysis by the Italian National Health Institute, which looked at deaths in the country between Feb 1 and Oct 5, showed major disparities in people who were dying from Covid after being fully jabbed.

It found the average age of death in the vaccinated was 85, and that on average each person had five underlying illnesses when they caught Covid. In contrast, the average age of death among the unvaccinated was 78, with those people having four pre-existing conditions on average.

Cases of heart problems, dementia and cancer were all found to be higher in the sample of deaths among those vaccinated.

During the study period, there were 38,096 Covid deaths in Italy, among which 33,620 were unvaccinated, 2,130 had received only a single dose or were infected shortly after inoculation before antibodies had formed, and 1,440 were fully vaccinated.

"The results presented here clearly indicate that people who died after completing the vaccination course have a high level of clinical complexity, significantly higher than people who could not benefit because they haven't even started the vaccination course," the study concluded.

"It is possible to hypothesise that very elderly patients with numerous diseases may have a reduced immune response and therefore be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and its complications despite having been vaccinated.

"These very fragile persons with a reduced immune response are those who can benefit most from a broad vaccination coverage of the entire population, as this would further reduce the risk of infection."

It comes as new data from Scottish researchers showed vaccination was more than 90 per cent effective in preventing deaths from the delta variant.

Researchers analysed data from 5.4 million people in Scotland between April 1 and Sep 27 this year. They found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 90 per cent effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine 91 per cent effective in preventing deaths in people who have been double vaccinated.

The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, are the first to show across an entire country how effective vaccines are at preventing death from delta.

Prof Aziz Sheikh, the director of the University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute, said: "With the delta variant now the dominant strain in many places worldwide and posing a higher risk of hospitalisation than previous variants seen in the UK, it is reassuring to see that vaccination offers such high protection from death very shortly after the second dose."

Prof Chris Robertson, of the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland, said: "Our findings are encouraging in showing that the vaccine remains an effective measure in protecting both ourselves and others from death from the most dominant variant of Covid-19."

The latest data from Public Health England shows that the death rate is three times higher for unvaccinated under-50s. Imperial College has also found that the risk of catching Covid is also far less among vaccinated people.

The most recent prevalence data found 1.76 per cent of unvaccinated people were found to have the virus, or one in 56. Prevalence among fully vaccinated people in the three months after their second jab was around one in 285.

However, between three and six months it rose to one in 181 – a 57 per cent increase, showing the importance of a booster jab.