I reported last week on the striking fact that, according to data from the ZOE Covid Symptom study, new symptomatic daily infections appeared to be plateauing in the unvaccinated while they were surging in the vaccinated. The trend has continued since then, with infections now entering decline in the unvaccinated while those in the vaccinated (with at least one dose) continue to surge (see graph above).
Around 67% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, so the fact that there are still more infections in the smaller unvaccinated group means no conclusion can be drawn from the current figures about the vaccines not being effective. Also, while more people are being vaccinated all the time, that steady trend is nowhere near large enough to account for the sharp changes in infection incidence we see here.
With infections in the unvaccinated already peaking and falling, despite the Delta variant, this drives a coach and horses through arguments for the supposed importance of vaccinating children and hesitant young people – including through inducements like vaccine passports for pubs, clubs and restaurants, now being mooted for the autumn.
Why the vaccinated are having their Delta surge later than the unvaccinated is an interesting question. Is it because the vaccines make them more resistant to infection? Does the age difference help explain it? Or is it something else?
Whatever the explanation, the important point is that without any new restrictions or a big new vaccine push, infections in the unvaccinated are already falling. In the current climate of pushes to extend restrictions, delay ‘Freedom Day’, and vaccinate everyone whether they want it or not, this is hugely significant. It means all those arguments to continue restrictions and pile on the pressure for vaccination because of the Delta variant are complete nonsense.
That new daily infections are still rising in the population as a whole is now because they are rising among the vaccinated, not the unvaccinated. They will likely peak soon in the vaccinated, too, just as they already have in Scotland.
It seems that Delta has done its strange summer thing and will soon exhaust itself like the variants before it.
When it does, is there any chance we can stop panicking every time this not-very-deadly virus has a little variant-driven ripple and go back to living as free people again?