In vaccinated and non-vaccinated mortality is “comparable”: do Raoult’s words hold up?

Referring to the case of the United Kingdom, European champion in the field of vaccines, Professor Didier Raoult affirms that “the extremely active policy of vaccination will not have given the expected results”. British statistical data does not fully confirm his remarks.

A controversial figure since the start of the health crisis, Didier Raoult has once again expressed his skepticism about vaccines, while the threat of a fourth wave caused by the Delta variant is looming on the horizon.

Criticizing the management of the epidemic in the United Kingdom, which has a rate of people vaccinated higher than France, the Marseille professor assured in a recent video: “In our country, the proportion of vaccinated among the positive cases is increasing and we do not have the impression that it is radically different from that of the unvaccinated”.

Asked if the vaccinated patients have the same type of infection as the unvaccinated patients, he said that “we have a mortality comparable to that in the unvaccinated”.

An arithmetic logic

The teacher’s words are however to be put into perspective. Since the start of the vaccine campaign, health authorities as well as manufacturers have claimed that the vaccine does not guarantee 100% protection against contamination or completely eliminate the risk of severe forms of Covid-19, but significantly reduces it. Then, it is an arithmetic logic: since the proportion of vaccinated in the general population, which can therefore always be contaminated and sometimes develop more serious forms, is increasing, their share among positive cases also increase.

Yes, the efficacy of the vaccines is (a little) less against the Delta variant

Indeed, the Delta (or Indian) variant worries the French health authorities, who fear a lower effectiveness of the vaccination against Covid-19. A specificity also revealed by Public Health England, the health organization of England. According to a study by this institution published at the end of May, the efficacy of protection against the disease with the Delta variant after a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccine is evaluated at only 33%, while it is 50 % against the British variant (Alpha).

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Nevertheless, the protection against this variant acquired after two doses of the vaccine, although it remains less in comparison with other variants, is considered to be “highly effective”: namely at 88% for the preparation Pfizer-BioNTech (93% for Alpha) and 60% for the AstraZeneca (66% for Alpha).

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) also confirmed on July 1 that two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine appear to protect against Delta.

“Emerging data from hard evidence shows that two doses of vaccine protect against the Delta variant […]. At present, it appears that the four vaccines approved in the European Union protect against all strains circulating in Europe, including the Delta variant, ”said Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at EMA, based in Amsterdam, quoted by AFP.

Yes, vaccine protection is “incomplete”

Pointing to the situation in the United Kingdom or in Israel, Professor Raoult asserts in the same video that “there is little magic” with “RNA vaccines” whose “real protection rate” is “between 60 and 80% ”, affirming that“ the extremely active policy of vaccination will not have given the expected results ”.

“The ability of this vaccine to protect the entire population even when we have extremely high vaccination rates is incomplete. There will remain problems to be solved, in particular through care, ”he assures us.

These words of Professor Raoult do not go against the statements of the health authorities. As the Minister of Health Olivier Véran reminds us in an interview published on May 29 on the vie-publique.fr site, the protection of anti-Covid substances is indeed not complete.

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“Logic would like, since we have all the studies which show it, that if you are vaccinated, you can be contaminated”, he explains before continuing: “But you do not make serious form”.

“We know that there has been a 94 to 95% reduction in hospitalizations, more than 80% reduction in severe symptomatic forms thanks to vaccination, in fact the oldest among us remain, people who, although vaccinated, are susceptible to present a serious form, again with a greatly reduced risk by the vaccine, but when you are 90 or 95 years old your immune system responds less well ”, specifies M.Véran.

British case: increase in new cases but durably low mortality

The progress of the vaccination campaign in the United Kingdom, where more than 63% of adults have been fully vaccinated, do not appear to have prevented the spread of the varie Delta, responsible as of July 2 for nearly 95% of the new infections, according to Public Health England. Such a deterioration in the health situation leads to a legitimate question about the effectiveness of vaccination, but it also deserves to be looked at more closely.

According to the graph available on the Our World in Date site, from the end of May the curve of new cases recorded across the Channel climbs to reach in early July nearly 27,000 new cases. This indicator is certainly lower than the more than 60,000 cases recorded during the epidemic peak in early January, but still appears worrying. The deterioration is however less visible on the weekly hospital side with nearly 1,700 hospital admissions on June 27, the level is close to that of early April, when the country came out of the winter wave.

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The data on mortality due to Covid-19 in the United Kingdom are even more reassuring: despite an increase in contamination for several weeks, no significant increase in deaths is in sight. While, during the wave of winter, at the very beginning of the vaccination campaign, the country of Shakespeare recorded more than 1,500 deaths daily, on July 3 there were “only” 18. According to the British health authorities, this durably low mortality is precisely the result of a successful vaccination.

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