Two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine have shown to prevent around 85 to 90 per cent of symptomatic COVID-19 infections, the first real-world data from Public Health England (PHE) has found. The method used for the 'COVID-19 Vaccine Surveillance Report' by PHE for analysing the approximate number of deaths and hospitalisations prevented by the vaccine programme was able to take into account the impact of both first and second doses for the first time, due to more data now being available on that in the country.
Previously, the real-world method only used the impact of the first dose of vaccination on hospitalisations and deaths.
“New analysis for the first time estimates that two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine provide around 85 to 90 per cent protection against symptomatic disease,” PHE said.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is also produced by the Serum Institute of India and is being administered in India to protect against COVID-19 as Covishield.
The UK government hailed the “incredible impact” the vaccination programme was having, as PHE estimates reveal that 13,000 deaths have now been prevented in people aged 60 years or older in England and 11,100 deaths in individuals aged 80 years and older, 1,600 in individuals aged 70 to 79 and 300 in individuals aged 60 to 69 years.
“This new data highlights the incredible impact that both doses of the vaccine can have, with a second dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine providing up to 90 per cent protection,” said Nadhim Zahawi, UK Vaccine Deployment Minister.
“There is no better weapon to send this virus into retreat than our life-saving vaccines. A second dose is vital to ensure you have the strongest possible protection so we can return to normality and get back to the things we love,” he said.
The minister said that more than one in three adults across the country are already fully vaccinated with both doses, as he encourages everyone to book their jab as soon as they are offered by the National Health Service (NHS) – which is now reaching out to all adults aged 34 and over to book their jabs.
Real-world estimates also indicate that the vaccination programme has prevented around 39,100 hospitalisations in those aged 65 years and over in England, approximately 4,700 admissions in those aged 65 to 74, 15,400 in those aged 75 to 84 and 19,000 in those aged 85 and over.
“This new data shows the vaccine saves lives and protects you from ending up in hospital with COVID-19,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
“With the threat of new variants, it’s never been more important to get the vaccine. We have now extended the call to 34 and 35 year olds, so when you get the offer, please get the jab,” he said.
“As this data highlights, getting your vaccine is one of the most important ways to beat the spread of this terrible disease, protecting you and those around you. The vaccines are very safe and very effective,” added Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE.
Oxford/AstraZeneca is one of three vaccines currently being administered by the NHS, alongside Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna.
While the Pfizer/BioNtech jabs previously required storage of very low temperatures, the UK medicines regulator has now said that it can be stored in regular refrigerators for up to a month.
It comes as BioNTech chief executive Ugur Sahin said he was encouraged by recent findings in a scientific paper and expects his vaccine to be as effective against the B1.617.2 variant of COVID-19 first identified in India.
"So far we've had the chance to test our vaccine against more than 30 variants of the virus. It has proven effective against mutations so far," he said.