Drugs and Vaccination

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 16th March 2023.

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Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Tatton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the impact of the use by the NHS of (a) vaccines and (b) antiviral drugs on trends in the level of excess deaths.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

A detailed assessment of trends in the causes of excess deaths over winter 2022/23 is not available, it is likely that a combination of factors has contributed, including high flu prevalence, cold weather, the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

While there are many explanatory factors, the Office for National Statistics published new analysis on 21 February 2023 which showed that up to 31 December 2022 the COVID-19 mortality rate has been consistently lower each month since the COVID-19 vaccine booster introduction in September 2021 for people who've had at least a third dose or booster, compared with unvaccinated people and those with just a first or second dose.

The Antivirals and Therapeutics Taskforce is working to provide the highest levels of protection possible for the United Kingdom population including those for whom vaccines may be less effective, such as those who are immunocompromised, by making available treatments to prevent progression to severe disease. There is now a range of treatment options, such as antiviral treatments, dexamethasone and monoclonal antibodies accessible under published UK policies, for hospitalised and non-hospitalised patients in the UK. These pharmaceutical interventions play an important role, alongside vaccines.

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