Did boosters save lives in Europe?

Comparing excess mortality over last 12 months

The top ten European countries in terms of the proportion of people booster doses given were compared to the bottom ten to see if there had been a benefit. There is a marked difference between these groups with the top ten countries having given between 70 and 90 doses per 100 people and the bottom ten having given between 5 and 30. Notably the former are all in western europe whereas the latter are in eastern europe. 

Figure 1: Number of booster doses given per 100 people showing top ten and bottom ten European countries

The proportion who had booster doses correlates well with the total doses given by each country (see figure 2).

Figure 2: Total doses given per 100 people in each country

Boosters were sold on the premise that they prevented covid deaths (see figure 3). Figure 4 shows the cumulative covid deaths in the last twelve months for these twenty countries. Of the five countries with the lowest covid deaths all but one had low booster rates. Similarly of the five with the highest covid death figures, all but one had high booster rates.

Figure 3: NHS poster advertising booster doses

Figure 4: Cumulative covid deaths in last twelve months per million people

The cumulative excess mortality over the last twelve months was then compared for these same countries. There is no evidence here of any benefit from booster vaccines. Notably the worst five countries in terms of recent excess deaths were all heavily boosted countries.

Figure 5: Cumulative excess deaths in last twelve months per million people

Western and Eastern Europe have had different covid trajectories over time with eastern europe having minimal covid in spring 2020 but significant covid in spring 2021 whereas the reverse was true for Western Europe. Taking cumulative figures over the course of a whole year should smooth out such discrepancies but it is possible some remain. 

Overall, the purported benefit of booster doses is not apparent in terms of either a reduction in covid deaths or overall deaths. UKHSA in the meantime continues to claim a vaccine efficacy for boosters against death of 60-85%. Surely, if their claims were correct we would see fewer deaths in countries with high booster uptake not more?

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