Vaccines and Many Measures

The UK has over one-fifth of its population already vaccinated.

Anthony B. Masters
3 min readFeb 27, 2021


Jason Hunter, a campaigner, claimed:

You’d never believe this world beating UK vaccine programme if it were not for UK news and media telling you it was ‘world beating’ and that ‘Boris Johnson is doing a great job’ with vaccines…. because the data says that is just NOT true.

The graph shows the cumulative share of people ‘fully vaccinated’. That means people receiving both doses of two-dose vaccines. Similar claims spread on social media.

The graph includes the UK and its nations as separate lines. (Image: Facebook/Jason J Hunter)

This claim does not reflect different dosing strategies.

Vaccines induce immune responses, giving our bodies a training exercise. Over time, protection wanes. Secondary doses help provide a more complete ‘memory’ response.

This is why some vaccines have ‘booster’ shots. (Image: Australian Academy of Science)

Most people get some protection from the first dose. This is shown when we compare estimated efficacy from the first dose alone to the full course.

The Pfizer-BioNTech trial suggested an efficacy of about 52% between the two doses. Immune responses were likely to be mounting. The Israeli vaccine programme shows high effectiveness. After two doses, estimated trial efficacy was about 95% (90% to 97%).

Based on Oxford-AstraZeneca’s trial, there does not appear to be a decay in efficacy from delay. We should gather direct evidence on dosing intervals and the messenger RNA vaccines.

Vaccine efficacy appears to improve with longer dosing intervals. (Image: Financial Times)

The UK has a high proportion of people with first doses. By 14th February, over 22% of the UK population received at least one dose. In Malta, that share was 8%. For France, Germany and Ireland, it was under 4%.

The UK has a high proportion of its population receiving the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Image: Our World in Data)

Like a collage filmmaker, opponents opine: ‘But this was a fantasy.’



Anthony B. Masters

This blog looks at the use of statistics in Britain and beyond. It is written by RSS Statistical Ambassador and Chartered Statistician @anthonybmasters.