First vaccine dose cuts transmission and hospitalisation: UK studies

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EDINBURGH, Feb 23, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – Data from two separate studies
published in the UK on Monday, one in England and another in Scotland, have
shown vaccines against Covid-19 are effective in cutting disease transmission
and hospitalisations from the first dose.

Analysis from Public Health England has shown the vaccine manufactured by
Pfizer-BioNTech reduces the risk of catching infection by more than 70
percent after a first dose. That risk is reduced by 85 percent after a second
dose.

The public health body’s study of real-world data also showed vaccinated
people who go on to become infected are far less likely to die or be
hospitalised.

Hospitalisation and death from Covid-19 is reduced by over 75 percent in
those who have received a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to
the analysis.

“This crucial report shows vaccines are working — it is extremely
encouraging to see evidence that the Pfizer vaccine offers a high degree of
protection against coronavirus,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

Britain is one of the countries hardest-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with
120,757 deaths.

It was the first nation to begin mass vaccinations in December and more
than 17 million people have now received at least a first vaccine dose —
one-third of the UK’s adult population.

“We will see much more data over the coming weeks and months but we should
be very encouraged by these initial findings,” Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of
Immunisation at Public Health England, said.

-‘National evidence’-

At the same time a study in Scotland has shown the Pfizer-BioNTech and
Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccinations have led to a reduction in Covid-19
admissions to hospitals after a first dose.

The study, led by the University of Edinburgh, found that by the fourth
week after receiving the initial dose the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of
hospitalisation from Covid by up to 85 percent.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine reduced the risk by 94 percent.

“These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be
optimistic for the future,” Professor Aziz Sheikh, who lead the research,
said in a statement.

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

“Roll-out of the first vaccine dose now needs to be accelerated globally to
help overcome this terrible disease,” he added.

The research compared the outcomes of those who had received their first
jab with those who had not.

It found that vaccination was associated with an 81-percent reduction in
hospitalisation risk in the fourth week among those aged 80 years and over,
when the results for both vaccines were combined.

– ‘Extremely promising’ –

The project, which used patient data to track the pandemic and the vaccine
roll-out in real time, analysed a dataset covering the entire Scottish
population of 5.4 million between December 8 and February 15.

Some 1.14 million vaccines were administered to 21 percent of the Scottish
population during the period.

The Pfizer vaccine was received by 650,000 people in Scotland, while
490,000 had the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

It is the first research to describe the effect of the vaccinations on
preventing severe illness resulting in hospitalisation across an entire
country.

Previous results about vaccine efficacy have come from clinical trials.

The study team said the findings were applicable to other countries using
the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

The data reported “is extremely promising,” said Arne Akbar, the president
of the British Society for Immunology.

“Although there does seem to be some difference in effectiveness levels
measured across age groups, the reduction in hospitalisations for the older
age groups is still impressively high,” he said.

“We now need to understand how long-lasting this protection is for one dose
of the vaccine.”