Oxford vaccine ‘cuts hospital admissions by 94% after four weeks’

The encouraging results suggest one jab will dramatically cut admissions (Picture: AFP/Rex)

One dose of the Oxford vaccine cuts hospitalisations by up to 94%, four weeks after being jabbed, new research from Scotland suggests.

The Pfizer vaccine also substantially reduces the risk of being admitted to hospital by up to 85% after the same period, according to the first study on a country-wide effect of vaccines in the community.

The news will come as a relief to the UK amid a rapid vaccination rollout, which has already seen more than 17.5 million people receive a first jab.

It will also be hailed by some as a vindication of the decision to prioritise giving more people one injection than providing already protected people with a second dose.

There is some debate about whether that move makes it more likely that the virus will mutate and become resistant to vaccines, however. Initial advice suggested giving people a second dose three weeks after their first but that has now pushed back to 12 weeks in the UK.

But this data for the two jabs combined shows that among people over the age of 80 – who are at high risk of severe disease – the reduction in risk of hospital admission was 81% four weeks after just one dose.

Researchers examined coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland among people who have had their first jab and compared them with those who had not yet received a vaccine.

A healthcare professional draws up a dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at the vaccination centre set up at Chester Racecourse (Picture: AFP)

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.’

The researchers examined data between between December 8 and 15 February 15. During this period, 1.14 million vaccines were administered in Scotland – 21% of the Scottish population.

The Pfizer vaccine has been received by some 650,000 people, while 490,000 have had the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Dr Jim McMenamin, national Covid-19 incident director at Public Health Scotland, said: ‘These results are important as we move from expectation to firm evidence of benefit from vaccines.

‘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.’

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland examined data on people who had received either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the one developed by experts at the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca.

Scientists did not measure of the impact of a second jab because not enough people have yet had another dose.

Just over 615,000 people have had two doses in the UK, according to official figures.

The data has been published as a pre-print, meaning it is early work that has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a journal.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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