Confidence in vaccines rises after data on over-70s – health chief

Laura Parnaby, PA
·3-min read

Public health officials have “even more confidence in the vaccines” after new data showed both jabs being used in the UK provide “good protection” against coronavirus among elderly people.

People aged over 70 who have had one dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines are 60% less likely to catch Covid-19, according to a Public Health England (PHE) report.

The jabs also reduce the risk of hospital admission among people aged over 80 by 80%, and the Pfizer vaccine is 85% effective at preventing deaths among this age group.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Downing Street press conference on Wednesday: “After a single dose of either vaccine, protection against Covid-19 is around 60%, that’s protection against getting it.

“Protection against hospitalisation is around 80% and protection against death is around 85%.”

Coronavirus – Wed Mar 17, 2021
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, presented new PHE figures on vaccine efficacy at Wednesday’s Downing Street briefing (Hannah McKay/PA)

PHE’s head of immunisations Dr Mary Ramsay told the briefing the latest figures illustrate the jabs are “effective”, with “good protection in the over-70s”.

Dr Ramsay said in the PHE report’s release that officials have “even more confidence in the vaccines”.

She said: “We published our first data on how well these vaccines are working in the real world around a month ago.

“Many millions more people have since been vaccinated and we now have even more confidence in the vaccines.

“The latest data continue to show that both vaccines in use in the UK are still providing really good levels of protection against Covid-19.

“As well as reducing cases, if vaccinated people catch Covid-19, they are less likely to get serious illness and die.”

Coronavirus – Wed Mar 17, 2021
Dr Mary Ramsay addresses a media briefing in Downing Street (Hannah McKay/PA)

The PHE study also showed around 75.8% of people in the UK aged between 70 and 84 had coronavirus antibodies by early March, compared with 37.7% of people across all age groups.

However, people aged between 16 and 29 remain the age group with the highest proportion of antibodies after natural infection, indicating ongoing infection and transmission among younger people, according to the report.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Mr Hancock said those living with someone who is vaccinated have a 30% lower risk of catching Covid-19.

He said: “The vaccine offers protection to you, but it also offers protection to those around you, and the data show that if you live with someone who has been vaccinated, you have a 30% lower risk of catching Covid-19 yourself.

“This is the first data that directly measures the impact of the vaccine on reducing transmission, and it shows that the vaccines are saving lives.

“Both vaccines in the UK are not just safe but make you safe.”

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) later clarified this figure is based on a University of Glasgow study of all NHS workers in Scotland and their households between December 2020 and March 2021, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

More than 25 million people in the UK have received their first dose of coronavirus vaccine.

In a letter to regional NHS bosses, health service leaders said there will be a “significant reduction” in the vaccine supply from the week beginning March 29 and continuing for four weeks.