Three things we learned about the COVID vaccine on Monday

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read
Britain's new Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam speaks during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London on March 1, 2021, to give an update on the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic. - Britain on Monday appealed for a person infected with a powerful Covid-19 strain from Brazil to come forward, as experts fretted about its impact on new vaccines. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo by IAN VOGLER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said the COVID vaccines will 'hopefully take us into a very different world in the next few months'. (AFP via Getty Images)

We are getting ever closer, in Jonathan Van-Tam’s words, to being in “a very different world in the next few months” thanks to the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

When measured by doses administered per 100 people, the UK’s programme has been the third most successful in the world, at 30.77 per 100, according to the Our World in Data website.

And there was more good news at Monday’s Downing Street press conference. Here are three important things we learned about the vaccine…

1. It’s effective

England’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Van-Tam set out the key findings from a Public Health England report into the real-life effectiveness of both vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca – in over-70s who have received a single dose.

The headline figures include:

  • 60% effectiveness in preventing illness 28 to 34 days after the jab

  • Reducing the likelihood of hospitalisation by 80%

  • The Pfizer vaccine reducing the likelihood of death by 85% – data wasn’t available for the Oxford jab

“I think you’ll agree with me,” Prof Van-Tam said, "that although these data pertain to just the 70-plus age group at the moment… it gives us those first glimpses of how, if we are patient and we give this vaccine programme time to have its full effect, it’s going to hopefully take us into a very different world in the next few months.”

Watch: Matt Hancock says 'exciting new data' show effectiveness of vaccines

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the "exciting" data show the government’s 21 June target date for lifting England's lockdown is “achievable, because it shows that we will be able to break the link from cases, through to hospitalisations and to deaths”.

2. More people can now have one

Hancock announced over-60s are now being formally invited to get a jab, “all part of our national effort to ensure every adult is offered the vaccine by the end of July”.

Over-60s are seventh out of nine groups on the priority list for phase one of the vaccine rollout.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) also set out its recommendations for the second phase on Friday.

3. People are enthusiastic about it

Hancock hailed people’s “remarkable enthusiasm to get a jab”.

He cited data suggesting 94% of eligible adults – those in the top nine priority groups – have either had a jab or will get a jab when invited.

“This is so important because each and every jab makes us all safer.”

Watch: How England will leave lockdown