Covid vaccine: One AstraZeneca dose lowers chance of death by 80%, new research shows

Latest findings will allow people to ‘breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their risk of becoming seriously ill or hospitalised with the virus is significantly reduced’ through vaccination, says health secretary

Samuel Lovett
Science Correspondent
@samueljlovett
Monday 10 May 2021 19:01
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UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures
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A single dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine lowers a person’s risk of death from Covid-19 by 80 per cent – a figure that rises to 97 per cent for two shots of the Pfizer jab, new analysis shows.

The latest data, from Public Health England (PHE), further highlights the effectiveness of the UK’s two main vaccines in protecting against coronavirus. According to estimates, the jabs have already saved at least 10,000 lives since the beginning of the rollout.

Separate analysis from PHE also confirms that one dose of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine is highly effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation, especially in those aged 80 and over.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the PHE findings would allow people to “breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their risk of becoming seriously ill or hospitalised with the virus is significantly reduced after being vaccinated”.

The research comes as the government confirmed that further lockdown restrictions are to be lifted in England, with people allowed to dine in restaurants, go on holiday abroad and hug loved ones from Monday next week.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson said England remains “on track” to end all legal restrictions on 21 June, adding that an update later this month would set out what role, “if any”, could be played by coronavirus health certificates and social distancing.

“This unlocking amounts to a very considerable step on the road map back to normality and I am confident we will be able to go further,” the prime minister said.

The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has also been downgraded after a “consistent” fall in cases, hospital admissions and deaths. Britain’s four chief medical officers said the threat level should be reduced thanks to the success of social distancing restrictions and the vaccines.

In determining the Covid mortality risk among vaccinated people, PHE examined the number of new symptomatic PCR positive cases between December and April alongside those who died within 28 days of their positive test, and compared them according to vaccination status.

Results showed that Covid-19 cases who had had a single dose of either the Pfizer or the AstraZeneca vaccine had a higher level of protection against mortality – 44 per cent and 55 per cent higher respectively – than people who had not had a jab.

When combined with the protection vaccines offer against becoming a case in the first place, PHE said, this is equivalent to approximately 80 per cent protection against death in people who have had a single jab.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is the most widely used jab in the UK, with more than 27 million doses administered to date.

PHE said the data shows that protection against mortality from the Pfizer vaccine is even higher – around 69 per cent – for people who had their second jab at least seven days before testing positive for the virus.

Combining this with the estimated protection from getting the virus, the Pfizer vaccine is estimated to offer the equivalent of 97 per cent protection against death in people who have had both doses, PHE added.

A second PHE report found that one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine was 73 per cent effective in preventing hospitalisation among those aged 80 and over. This rises to 93 per cent for two shots of the Pfizer jab.

Not enough data has yet been collected on the full impact of two AstraZeneca doses as the vaccine was rolled out one month after the Pfizer shot.

The high protection provided by the vaccines, as outlined in the PHE, is specific to the coronavirus variant first detected in Kent last year.

Analysis is ongoing to determine how the vaccines work against other variants in circulation, though scientists believe they will still prove to be effective.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: “Getting your vaccine will significantly reduce your risk of dying or becoming seriously ill from Covid-19.

“It will also significantly reduce your chances of getting infected and infecting others. It is vital to get both doses of your vaccine when you are offered it.”

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