ICMR study on 1.17 lakh Tamil Nadu police personnel reaffirms effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing death

Chennai: A real-world study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Epidemiology (ICMR-NIE), based on vaccination, hospitalization data from Tamil Nadu police has reaffirmed the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing death.

The data for the study was collected between February 1 and May 14 while the country was facing the second wave of the pandemic. As per the study, out of 117,524 police personnel in Tamil Nadu, 32,792 received one dose, 67,673 received two doses of COVID vaccine while the remaining 17,059 were unvaccinated.

Among over 1.17 lakh police personnel, 31 deaths were reported between April 13 and May 14 this year. Of the 31 who succumbed, four had taken two doses of the vaccine, seven had taken one dose and the remaining 20 were unvaccinated.

The median age of the deceased was 52 that ranged between 34 and 58 and it comprised 29 men and 2 women.

“The incidence of COVID-19 deaths among those who received zero, one and two doses were 1.17, 0.21 and 0.06 per 1000 police personnel respectively,” the study said. It added that, compared to unvaccinated individuals, the relative risk of COVID-19 death among those who received one and two doses were 0.18 and 0.05 respectively.

It further said, “Vaccine effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 deaths with one and two doses was 82 per cent and 95 per cent respectively.”

The report mentions that the results of this study are consistent with the published studies showing the effectiveness of vaccines against severe disease.

The study, however, had its limitations such as not having specific figures for each vaccine – Covaxin and Covishield, no individual data for co-morbidities, age and previous exposure to COVID-19.

“Study conducted by vaccine makers are done under very controlled conditions and in an ideal scenario, but this one is a real-world trial on frontline workers,” Dr. Manoj V Murhekar, Director NIE told Zee Media.

He added that a more detailed study was being conducted across 10 hospitals in India by taking into consideration the patient details, age, co-morbidities etc. The results of that study are expected to be available by the end of this month, he said.

According to Mr Shankar Jiwal, Commissioner of Police, Chennai, there was huge vaccine hesitancy among the police personnel, ministerial staff and family members, owing to panic and a lack of clarity in the initial stages. However, the situation gradually improved, thanks to awareness campaigns, circulars, systematic approach and efforts of the department.

“About two months ago, 71% of the personnel had taken their first dose, whereas 10% had taken their second shot. With personnel and family members understanding the importance of vaccines and the protection, many came voluntarily, enthusiastically along with their family members to take their jabs. As on 8th July (Thursday), 95% of the personnel had taken their first dose and 53% had received both shots,” Shankar Jiwal, Commissioner of Police, Chennai told Zee Media.

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