New results from England- and Scotland-based studies suggest that the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination program is effective at reducing hospitalizations and the risk of contracting the disease. 

Preliminary findings from a study of the Scottish population found that there were 85 percent fewer hospital admissions for people who received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine four weeks prior compared with those who were unvaccinated. Similarly, one shot of Oxford/AstraZeneca’s version was tied to a reduction in hospitalizations of up 94 percent, according to the Associated Press. The results, which have not yet undergone peer review, were posted to The Lancet’s preprint site on February 19.

A second study, which was posted to The Lancet’s preprint site on February 22, of health care workers in England found that one shot of Pfizer’s vaccine was associated with a reduced risk of contracting the disease by 70 percent, while the second shot was tied to a reduced risk of 85 percent, according to the AP.

“This new evidence shows that the jab protects you, and protects those around you,” Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, tells the AP. “It is important that we see as much evidence as possible on the vaccine’s impact on protection and on transmission and we will continue to publish evidence as we gather it.”

See “Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Reduces Viral Load: Study

The results from England also suggest that people aged over 80 who were vaccinated with a single Pfizer shot were 57 percent less likely to contract the disease three to four weeks after immunization, and this figure rose to more than 85 percent after the second dose.

The UK has delayed giving some people their second shot in order to spread around the doses, thereby delivering the partial protection conferred from one vaccine dose, The New York Times reports. More than 17.5 million people in the UK, about one-third of the population, have already received one vaccine shot, the AP reports. But experts say it’s unclear how this strategy will play out in the long term. 

“We now need to understand how long lasting this protection is for one dose of the vaccine,” Arne Akbar, a professor at University College London and the president of the British Society for Immunology, tells the Times.

See “Will Delaying Vaccine Doses Cause a Coronavirus Escape Mutant?