COVID-19 vaccines provide higher levels of protection against severe disease, including hospitalization and death.
A Daily Sceptic article has claimed that a Public Health England report shows that COVID-19 vaccines are less effective among people over 40 years of age, indicating that the vaccines make people over 40 more likely to catch COVID-19. This is incorrect.
According to PHE, clinical trials have been undertaken for each of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in the U.K. which found that they are highly effective at preventing symptomatic disease. Though people may not show signs of COVID-19 after vaccination, it is possible that they could still be infected and could transmit the virus to others. Also, the data suggest that a single-dose vaccine provides protection from hospitalization and death.
In its weekly COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report, PHE mentioned that the positive COVID-19 test rate among people up to 39 and those older than 80 is substantially lower in vaccinated individuals than unvaccinated. In people aged 40 to 79, a positive COVID-19 test rate is higher in vaccinated individuals than unvaccinated. This does not mean that vaccinated people above their 40s are more likely to get the infection. Additionally, PHE also stated that this might be due to various reasons, including "differences in the population of vaccinated and unvaccinated people and differences in testing patterns." The vaccination status of COVID cases and deaths is not an appropriate way to evaluate vaccines' effectiveness.
Moreover, the COVID-19 related death rate was high among the unvaccinated individuals above 40s, according to the PHE data. Vaccinated individuals could potentially still get COVID-19 infection. However, vaccination will lessen the severity of the illness.
Therefore, the PHE report does not show that the COVID-19 vaccines have low effectiveness. The Daily Sceptic misinterpreted the data provided by PHE in its weekly report.