Effects of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine on Covid-19 infection and hospitalisation among older people: matched case control study for England

Thomas Mason, Matt Whitston , Jack Hodgson, Ruth Watkinson, Yiu-Shing Lau, Omnia Abdulrazeg, Matt Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine has been shown to be effective at preventing serious Covid-19 events in clinical trials. There is less evidence on effectiveness in real-world settings, especially for older people. Here, we aimed to estimate vaccine effectiveness in the context of the rapid NHS mass-vaccination programme in England, exploiting age-based vaccination eligibility thresholds to minimise and correct for selection bias.
We studied 170,226 individuals between the ages of 80 and 83 years from community settings outside care homes who received one dose of BNT162b2 mRNA between the 15th and 20th December 2020 and were scheduled a second dose 21 days later. We matched these vaccine recipients to slightly younger (aged 76-79 years) persons not yet eligible to receive the vaccine on gender, area of residence, area deprivation, health status, living arrangements, acute illness, and history of seasonal flu vaccination. We compared their rates of Covid-19 positivity and hospitalisation in the subsequent 45 days. We adjusted for the increasing concentration of Covid-19 positivity in the control population caused by the requirement to have no Covid-19 symptoms prior to vaccination.
Emergency hospital admissions were 51.0% (95% confidence interval: 19.9% to 69.5%) lower and positive Covid-19 tests were 55.2% (40.8% to 66.8%) lower for vaccinated individuals compared to matched controls 21 to 27 days after first vaccination. Emergency admissions were 75.6% (52.8% to 87.6%) lower and positive Covid-19 tests were 70.1% (55.1% to 80.1%) lower 35 to 41 days after first vaccination when 79% of participants had received a second dose within 26 days of their first dose.
Receipt of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine is effective at reducing Covid-19 hospitalisations and infections. The nationwide vaccination of older adults in England with the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine reduced the burden of Covid-19.

Observational study
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Sept 2021


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