Data from two separate studies published in the UK, one in England and one in Scotland, have shown vaccines for COVID-19 to be effective at reducing disease transmission and hospital stays from the first dose.
Analysis by Public Health England (PHE) released on Monday shows that the vaccine, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, reduces the risk of infection by more than 70 percent after the first dose. This risk is reduced by 85 percent after a second dose.
“Overall, we see a very strong effect on reducing asymptomatic and symptomatic infections,” said Susan Hopkins, Strategic Response Director of PHE, at a press conference.
In a statement posted on social media, Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Affairs, welcomed the development as “incredibly good news”.
“It shows that the vaccines are working and that vaccines save lives.”
The health authority’s study of real-world data also shows that vaccinated people who become infected are far less likely to die or be hospitalized.
Hospitalization and death from the virus are reduced by more than 75 percent in those who received a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, according to analysis.
According to the Johns Hopkins University, the UK is one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 121,000 deaths.
It was the first country to start mass vaccination in December and more than 17 million people – about a third of the UK’s adult population – have now received at least their first dose of vaccine.
“We will see a lot more data in the coming weeks and months, but we should be very encouraged by these initial insights,” said Dr. Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunization, Public Health England.
At the same time, a study in Scotland showed that the vaccinations from Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca resulted in a reduction in COVID-19 admissions to hospitals after the first dose.
The study, conducted by the University of Edinburgh, found that the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 by up to 85 percent by the fourth week after receiving the starting dose.
A separate study in Scotland showed that Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization by 94 percent [File: Luca Zennaro/EPA]Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine reduced the risk by 94 percent.
“These results are very encouraging and have given us good reasons to be optimistic about the future,” said Dr. Aziz Sheikh, who led the research, in a statement.
“We now have evidence nationwide – nationwide – that vaccination will protect against COVID-19 hospitalization.
“The rollout of the first dose of vaccine now needs to be accelerated worldwide to overcome this terrible disease,” he added.
The study compared the results of those who received their first push versus those who hadn’t.
It found that vaccination at the fourth week was associated with an 81 percent reduction in the risk of hospitalization in people aged 80 and over when the results for both vaccines were combined.
“This is incredibly good news, it shows that the vaccines are working and that vaccines save lives.” @ MattHancock welcomes @ PHE_uk data showing hospital stay and death from # COVID19 are reduced by over 75% after first dose of the Pfizer / @ BioNTech_Group vaccine. pic.twitter.com/wcACTEHm1Y
– Ministry of Health and Social Affairs (@DHSCgovuk) February 22, 2021
The project, which used patient data to track the pandemic and vaccine rollout in real time, analyzed a data set that covered the entire Scottish population of 5.4 million between December 8th and February 15th.
During the reporting period, approximately 1.14 million vaccines were administered to 21 percent of the Scottish population.
Around 650,000 people received the Pfizer vaccine and 490,000 the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
It is the first study to describe the effect of vaccinations on preventing serious illnesses that lead to hospitalizations nationwide.
Previous results on the effectiveness of the vaccine come from clinical studies.
The study team said the results are applicable to other countries using the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.
The reported data “are extremely promising,” said Arne Akbar, president of the British Society for Immunology.
“Although there seems to be some difference in measured levels of effectiveness between age groups, the reduction in hospital admissions for the older age groups is still impressively high,” he said.