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A doctor prepares a dose of the Oxford-Astra-Zeneca vaccine at a vaccination unit in London on February 28. Hollie Adams / Getty Images

A single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines reduces the risk of hospitalization from Covid-19 by more than 80% in people over the age of 80, new data from Public Health England (PHE) shows.

The effect was observed three to four weeks after vaccination.

People older than 70 years were also shown to have up to 61% protection against symptomatic disease from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and up to 73% from the Oxford-Astra-Zeneca vaccine.

“This adds to mounting evidence showing that vaccines are working to reduce infections and save lives,” Dr. Mary Ramsay, chief of immunization at PHE, said in a news release.

During a press conference on Monday, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock praised the real-world data, noting that the daily death toll in the UK is declining “much faster” than at the first peak, and is “declining. faster in those over 80 who got the jab first than in those under 80 “.

The UK has given Covid-19 injections to more than 20 million people, with campaigns targeting first those over 80 who are most vulnerable to the disease.

The new data supports the country’s decision to use the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines at a time when other countries in Europe were concerned about the use of the AstraZeneca injection in older people.

“These findings are particularly welcome news due to the age range of the participants who were 70 and older,” said Deborah Dunn-Walters, president of the British Society for COVID-19 Immunology and Immunology Taskforce, and Professor of Immunology at the University. from Surrey.

“Previous clinical trials for both vaccines have not included many people in this age range. This is important because as we age, our immune systems do not function as well as when we were younger, which means that people older than sometimes they produce less immune responses to vaccination, “he said.

“The fact that vaccination is effective in significantly reducing Covid-19 symptom cases, hospitalizations and deaths in this older age group is really positive news,” Dunn-Walters added.
“Although more research is needed, this study also provides more assurance surrounding the UK’s decision to offer the two doses of the vaccine 12 weeks apart.”

But Ramsay emphasized the need for people to be vigilant with measures like social distancing and hand washing.

“It is important to remember that protection is not complete and we do not yet know how much these vaccines will reduce the risk of you transmitting Covid-19 to other people,” he said.

Data released last week by PHE from studies in healthcare workers found that one dose of the vaccine prevented people from contracting asymptomatic Covid-19 by at least 70%, suggesting that vaccines may help reduce the spread. infection, but more data is needed.

The UK is increasing the rate of second dose administration, with just over 800,000 inoculated with both injections.

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