Pfizer or AstraZeneca Single Dose Cuts Hospitalizations by 80%
The report from Public Health England, published Monday, also found that one vaccine shot reduces the chance of people aged over-70 becoming ill by some 60%.
U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a press conference in London the “exciting” data was a “sign that the vaccine is working”. But he urged people to “keep sticking to the rules” of the country’s third national lockdown, adding: “Let’s not blow it now.”
More than 20.2 million people in the U.K. have received their first dose of the vaccine so far, over one-third of all adults.
The new study should ease concerns that the AstraZeneca vaccine is less effective in the elderly. Some European Union countries have authorized the shot only for younger people, citing a lack of trial data on its efficacy in older recipients. The findings also bolster the U.K.’s decision to delay second doses of two-shot vaccines like Pfizer’s and AstraZeneca’s in order to speed injections to as many people as possible.
The U.K. is relying on its ambitious vaccine roll-out to enable it to reopen parts of the economy that have been shut for over two months in England’s national lockdown.
“A single shot of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine or of the Pfizer vaccine works against severe infection among the over-70s with a more than 80% reduction in hospitalizations,” Hancock said.
“In fact, 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.”
The PHE data shows that protection against illness, four weeks after the first dose, ranged between 57% and 61% for one dose of Pfizer and between 60% and 73% for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE head of immunization, said in a statement: “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.”