Covid-19 vaccines are “highly effective” in preventing hospital admission with the Delta variant of coronavirus, according to new data from Public Health England (PHE).
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs are just as good at coping with the Delta variant first identified in India as the Alpha variant first identified in Kent, the data suggests.
PHE’s study of hospital admissions found:
– The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 94% effective against hospital admission after just one dose, rising to 96% after two doses.
– The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is 71% effective against hospital admission after just one dose, rising to 92% after two doses.
– Protection against death is also expected to be high, but further work is under way to confirm this.
– Unvaccinated people have twice the risk of hospital admission with the Delta variant as the Alpha variant.
– Among those who are vaccinated, 12 people in every 100 may end up in hospital with Delta compared with eight for Alpha.
The PHE researchers said: “These findings indicate very high levels of protection against hospitalisation with the Delta variant with one or two doses of either vaccine.”
The analysis included 14,019 cases of the Delta variant, of which 166 people ended up in hospital.
The data covered the dates of April 12 to June 4 for emergency hospital admissions in England.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our UK vaccination programme continues at pace and has already saved thousands of lives. It is our way out of this pandemic.
“This evidence of the effectiveness of two doses against variants shows just how crucial it is to get your second jab.
“If you have had your first dose but haven’t booked your second yet – please do so. It will help save lives and boost us on the road to recovery.”
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: “These hugely important findings confirm that the vaccines offer significant protection against hospitalisation from the Delta variant.
“The vaccines are the most important tool we have against Covid-19 and thousands of lives have already been saved because of them.
“It is absolutely vital to get both doses as soon as they are offered to you, to gain maximum protection against all existing and emerging variants.”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “It is extremely encouraging to see today’s research showing that vaccines are continuing to help break the link between hospitalisation and the Delta variant after one dose, and particularly the high effectiveness of two doses.
“If you’re getting the call to bring forward your second dose appointment – do not delay – get the second jab so you can benefit from the fullest possible protection.”
It comes as other research in Scotland also suggests the Delta variant is associated with about double the risk of hospital admission compared with the Kent variant.
Nevertheless, two doses of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca were found to be protective, experts said.
Two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab was found to provide 79% protection against infection from the Delta variant, compared with 92% against the Alpha variant.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offered 60% protection against infection with the Delta variant compared with 73% for the Alpha variant.
Experts said this lower vaccine effect may reflect that it takes longer to develop immunity with the Oxford jab.
Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute and EAVE II study lead, said it was important that “when offered second doses, people take these up, both to protect themselves, and to reduce household and community transmission”.
The data was based on 7,723 cases and 134 hospital admissions that were found to have the Delta variant.