By Elishya Perera
LONDON (CU)_Both COVID-19 vaccines developed by pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer are more than 80 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation of older people, Public Health England (PHE) says.
According to a study released by the agency on Monday (March 1), the two vaccines are effective in preventing hospitalisation of those above 80 years of age, around 3 to 4 weeks after a single dose.
The study compared the rate of hospitalisation and the rate of deaths in confirmed COVID-19 cases aged over 80 who were vaccinated more than 14 days before testing positive, and those who were not vaccinated.
“This adds to growing evidence showing that the vaccines are working to reduce infections and save lives,” Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE Head of Immunisation, said. “While there remains much more data to follow, this is encouraging and we are increasingly confident that vaccines are making a real difference.”
However, she reiterated that “protection is not complete” since there is insufficient data available on how effective these vaccines are in reducing the risk of passing the virus to others.
“Even if you have been vaccinated, it is it is really important that you continue to act like you have the virus, practise good hand hygiene and stay at home,” Dr Ramsay noted.
The public health agency said that the data also shows that symptomatic infections in over 70s decreases from around 3 weeks after a single dose of both vaccines.
This new analysis was issued amidst concerns raised by several countries regarding the lack of trial data on the efficacy of the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine in older populations. Some European nations, for instance, have authorised the vaccine only for younger adults, while the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) of Canada advised against the use of the jab on people who are 65 years and older.
Nevertheless, with the NHS beginning to deliver second doses to those people vaccinated first, Public Health England hopes that these vaccines will help reduce the spread of infection, particularly in hospitals and care homes.