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How first dose has saved lives

Tuesday March 2nd 2021

The first dose of vaccine has cut rates of COVID-19 disease among elderly people by about two thirds, according to a major analysis published yesterday.

Both the Pfizer mRNA vaccine and the Oxford adenoviral vaccine have been effective – although the Oxford vaccine may have cut rates of disease by up to 73%, according to the Public Health England research.

Amongst patients over the age of 80, a single dose of either vaccine has cut hospitalisation rates by more than 80% for at least three weeks, the researchers say.

Amongst the over 70s, rates of symptomatic infection began decreasing three weeks after the first dose, according to the findings.

Dr Mary Ramsey, from Public Health England, said: “This adds to growing evidence showing that the vaccines are working to reduce infections and save lives.

“While there remains much more data to follow, this is encouraging and we are increasingly confident that vaccines are making a real difference.

“It is important to remember that protection is not complete and we don’t yet know how much these vaccines will reduce the risk of you passing COVID-19 onto others.”

Giving the daily briefing last night, health secretary Matt Hancock said the findings were “extremely good news.”

He said: “We can see that the number of deaths each day is thankfully falling much, much faster than after the first peak, and again, as you can see from this slide, is falling faster in the over-80s – who got the jab first – than in the under-80s.

“This is a gap between the rate of decline in older and younger groups, the rate of decline in terms of people dying each day, is going faster amongst the over-80s and this shows in the real world, across the UK, right now, that the vaccine is helping to protect the NHS and save lives.”

He added: “The detailed data show that the protection that you get from catching COVID, 35 days after a first jab, is even slightly better for the Oxford jab than for Pfizer, albeit both results are clearly very strong. Professor Van-Tam is going to set more details in a moment.

“These results may also help explain why the number of COVID admissions to intensive care units among people over 80 in the UK have dropped to single figures in the last couple of weeks.”

The NHS Confederation said the findings were “uplifting” but called for continued caution.

Dr Layla McCay, from the Confederation, said: “This news comes as there are around 10,000 people in English hospitals right now with COVID-19, as some local authority areas have noted slight increases in cases, and as we are learning that the more transmissible strain first identified in Brazil is present in our country.

“All of this is worrying as we approach the first stage of the national unlocking next week and it highlights the need for the Government to stick to its cautious approach and ensure it is guided by the data and what experts are saying.

“Local leaders across the NHS are very aware of the disruption that COVID-19 has caused to the services that they are able to provide and the impact these pressures have had on their staff who are exhausted.”

The UK yesterday reported 104 deaths and 5,455 new cases of infection with COVID-19. It was the lowest number of daily deaths since early October.

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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