Have vaccines been useful against life in France? Launched in late December 2020, the vaccination campaign appears to have peaked eleven months later, with a rate of around 75% fully vaccinated (two doses). Therefore, the time has come to draw the conclusions of this effort that has allowed 50 million French people to be vaccinated in less than a year. But how protected have they been from infection and severe forms of Covid-19? To clarify this, Public Health France has published an analysis of all epidemiological data from the year 2021 in order to understand the impact of these vaccines on the epidemic in France.
Decreasing incidence rates
Researchers from Public Health France compared the incidence rates during the last wave before the start of vaccination (second wave, from late October to mid-December 2020) with those of the subsequent waves (third wave from mid-March to mid-March 2020). December 2020). early June 2021 and fourth wave from mid-July to mid-October 2021). It can be seen that these incidence rates are getting lower as vaccination progresses (see graph 1).
Figure 1. Change in Covid-19 case incidence rates (/ 100,000 population), by age group, from May 25, 2020 to October 20, 2021, France. Click to see larger. Credit: Public health France.
More vaccination equals fewer cases, regardless of age
The dynamics are even clearer when looking at each age group in detail. In fact, vaccination began with the elderly residing in nursing homes, who already achieved 54% vaccination coverage before the start of the third wave. They were followed by people over the age of 75, 14% of whom were fully vaccinated at the start of this wave. While younger people, who started vaccination later, had very low coverage at that time (3% for 50-74, 0% for the rest). Comparing this third wave with the second, where the vaccination rate was 0% for all age groups, we see that the most vaccinated had the largest decreases in contamination cases (around -90% for people in Ehpad and -50% for those over 75), while those with very little vaccination had a number of weekly cases close to (or higher) than those of the second wave. This effect continues in the fourth wave, where all age groups 18 years and older had at least 40% vaccination coverage, showing declines in the number of cases ranging from around 30% for people 18 and older. to 49 years. At -95% for people in nursing homes (see graph 2).
Graph 2. Comparison of the weekly average number of cases versus the second wave, by age group. The blue bars represent the relationship between waves 3 and 2, the red bars between waves 4 and 2. The percentages in green show the proportion of fully vaccinated people in each age group at the start of the third or fourth wave. The black dotted line shows the level of the second wave. Click to see larger. Credit: Nicolas Gutierrez C.
And fewer cases means fewer hospitalizations
This dynamic is confirmed by the number of hospitalizations, which also decrease as a function of vaccination coverage. Thus, we see that people over 75 years of age had 30% fewer hospitalizations when their coverage was 14%, compared to -84% when their coverage was 80% during the fourth wave. This protection is also reflected in the rest of the age groups, with fewer hospitalizations in the fourth wave than in the third, thanks to better vaccination coverage. With the exception of 12 to 17-year-olds, who were only vaccinated 6% before the fourth wave and therefore have hospitalization rates close to those of the second wave (see graph 3). Results that confirm the protective effect of vaccines against Covid-19.
Figure 3. Comparison of the weekly average number ofhospitalizations compared to the second wave, by age group. The blue bars represent the relationship between waves 3 and 2, the red bars between waves 4 and 2. The percentages in green show the proportion of fully vaccinated people in each age group at the start of the third or fourth wave. The black dotted line shows the level of the second wave. Click to see larger. Credit: Nicolas Gutierrez C.
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