New data suggests that the Covid-19 vaccines are reducing a person’s risk of being hospitalised by as much as 94 per cent four weeks after their first dose.

Research from Scotland shows that a month after having the initial dose of the Oxford jab, a person’s risk of hospital admission reduces by around 94 per cent.

The AstraZeneca vaccine “works, and it works in older people” according to the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

And those who had the Pfizer jab had a reduction of risk of up to 85 per cent between 28 and 34 days after their first dose.

Older people are at high risk of severe disease. Data for the two jabs combined showed the reduction in risk of hospital admission was 81 per cent for people in that bracket, a month after their first dose.

The older people in the study were more likely to have had the AstraZeneca jab.

Experts looked at coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland among people who have had their first jab.

Boris Johnson holding a vial of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine
(Image: Geoff Caddick/PA Wire)

Their data was compared to those who are yet to have any vaccine from the virus.

Scientists from the universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrews and Public Health Scotland (PHS) analysed data on people who had received either the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination, or the one developed by scientists at the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca.

The vaccines were said to be “performing incredibly well” according to the experts. They anticipate seeing similar results around the UK.

The stressed that the study didn’t intend to look at the differences between the two jabs as they had been offered to different populations.

Lead researcher Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, said: “These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future.

“We now have national evidence – across an entire country – that vaccination provides protection against Covid-19 hospitalisations.

“We are overall very, very impressed with both these vaccines.

“When we move beyond trial circumstances you never know what the results are going to be, but this is out in the field and both are performing incredibly well.

“At the moment, we don’t have the numbers to do these age-stratified analyses by different vaccine types but we will have those soon.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty
(Image: PA)

“But both of these [vaccines] are working spectacularly well, that said, we haven’t done a direct comparison between the two at the moment.”

Sir Patrick said the Scottish study was “very encouraging” but warned that the estimates have “confidence intervals” – meaning that the actual figure may be more or less effective than one reported.

“But AZ works,” he added. “And it works in older people.”

Professor Dame Angela McLean, chief scientific adviser for the Ministry of Defence, added: “Ninety four is a very encouraging number, however 94 is not 100. We have to live with that and that’s why getting coverage really, really high, is so important.”

The data examined was gathered between December 8 and February 15, when 1.14 million vaccines were administered in Scotland to 21 per cent of the population.

The Pfizer vaccine was given to 650,000 people, while 490,000 received the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

Researchers examined GP records on vaccination, hospital admissions, death registrations and laboratory test results, comparing the outcomes of those who had received their first jab to those who hadn’t.

Dr Teresa Lambe, associate professor at the University of Oxford, said: “When we first started this journey, we could only hope that a year later, real world data would show this level of impact from our vaccine against hospitalisation from severe illness.

“It is a huge day for us all, especially the team who’ve worked so hard, and monumental in our battle against coronavirus.”

Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said: “We are delighted to see that the real-world evidence reported today from the University of Edinburgh which confirms that both the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine have a very substantial impact against hospitalisation with Covid-19 disease.

“Vaccines work. We now need to make sure that everyone everywhere is protected.”

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Dr Jim McMenamin, national Covid-19 incident director at PHS, said: “Across the Scottish population the results show a substantial effect on reducing the risk of admission to hospital from a single dose of vaccine.

“For anyone offered the vaccine, I encourage them to get vaccinated.”

Dr McMenamin added that the data was “encouraging” when looking at the effect of the vaccine against the UK varient of Covid-19.

He added that in Scotland, cases of the South Africa variant had “almost exclusively” been linked to travel.

“It is unlikely that we’re able to see anything then about the effect of the vaccine for other variants, but certainly for the UK variant that we have seen across the time period of the study that we’re demonstrating for the whole programme a very encouraging vaccine effect,” he said.

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England and co-lead for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), said: “This research provides encouraging early data on the impact of vaccination on reducing hospitalisations.”

Chris Robertson, professor of public health epidemiology at the University of Strathclyde, added: “These early national results give a reason to be more optimistic about the control of the epidemic.”

The data has been published as a pre-print, meaning it has not yet gone through peer-review or been published in a journal.


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