The UK is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Out of the nation’s 68 million people, more than 45 million have received at least a single dose, and over 33 million have been fully vaccinated. However, a new report released by Public Health England (PHE) highlighted the fact that in the past few months, more fully vaccinated people have died from the Delta variant compared to unvaccinated people.
The report, titled “SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England, Technical briefing 16,” examined 60,624 Delta infections between February 1 and June 14, of which 35,521 cases were observed in unvaccinated individuals and 4,087 cases were seen in fully vaccinated individuals who got infected at least 14 days after their second dose.
The death rate for fully vaccinated individuals was 0.636 percent, which was 6.6 times higher than the unvaccinated death rate of 0.0957 percent. 26 deaths were reported among the fully vaccinated individuals, compared to 34 deaths in the unvaccinated. The death rates among fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals were both below one percent.
Fully vaccinated individuals were also found to be more prone to hospitalization than their unvaccinated counterparts. Out of the 4,087 fully vaccinated people, 2.05 percent (84 people) ended up in a hospital. Among the 35,521 unvaccinated people, only 1.48 percent (527 people) were hospitalized.
In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Stephanie Seneff, a senior researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL), says that the situation is reminiscent of a phenomenon seen among other vaccines called antibody dependent enhancement (ADE).
According to a study published in September 2020 in the Nature Microbiology journal, “One potential hurdle for antibody-based vaccines and therapeutics is the risk of exacerbating COVID-19 severity via antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). ADE can increase the severity of multiple viral infections, including other respiratory viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and measles.”
In another study published in 2012, lab animals injected with experimental coronavirus vaccines developed enhanced lung diseases. As a result, the researchers concluded, “Caution in proceeding to application of a SARS-CoV vaccine in humans is indicated.”
According to Seneff, several studies have shown that coronavirus vaccines can alter how human immune systems respond to infections. In addition, the vaccines can activate dormant infections such as herpes, resulting in symptoms of Bell’s Palsy or shingles.
“It is conceivable to me that the laser-beam specificity of the induced antibodies is offset by a general weakening of innate immunity… I also suspect that massive vaccination campaigns may accelerate the rate at which the vaccine-resistant mutant strains become dominant among all the SARS-CoV-2 [coronavirus] strains,” Seneff said.
Risk assessment, winter infections
In a PHS risk assessment of the Delta variant released on June 18, infection severity has been classified as low. However, there are “analyses from England and Scotland supporting a reduction in vaccine effectiveness for Delta compared to Alpha against symptomatic infection.”
The reduced effectiveness “is more pronounced after one dose (absolute reduction of approximately 15% to 20% after one dose). Iterated analysis continues to show vaccine effectiveness against Delta is higher after 2 doses but that there is a reduction for Delta compared to Alpha.”
The report also classified the Delta variant’s transmissibility between humans as high, noting that the strain shows “a substantially increased growth rate compared to Alpha, across multiple analyses.”
While speaking at a conference, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, warned that the COVID-19 pandemic “has not thrown its last surprise” and that there will be several more waves of infections in the future. He anticipates a surge in cases during winter.
“In terms of the medium-term, my expectation is that we will get a further winter surge, late autumn/winter surge… And that is because we know that winter and autumn favor respiratory viruses, and therefore it’d be very surprising if this particular highly transmissible respiratory virus was not also favored,” Whitty said.
Flu infections may also increase during winter. In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Prof Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said that flu could be a “potentially bigger problem” than COVID-19 during the winter season. He pointed out that when flu has been circulating in very low numbers, as has been the case for the last few years, immunity among the population drops. “And it comes back to bite us,” he said.
With reporting by Arvind Datta.