New research has found that the Covid-19 vaccination programme has been linked to a substantial reduction in hospital admissions.
Researchers examined coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland among people who have had their first jab and compared them with those who had not yet received a dose of the vaccine.
By the fourth week after receiving the initial dose, the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines were shown to reduce the risk of hospital admission from Covid-19 by up to 85% and 94%, respectively, they found.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland examined data on people who had received either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the one developed by experts at the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that every adult in the UK should be offered a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July.
The accelerated vaccine rollout would help protect the most vulnerable sooner and also enable the easing of some lockdown restrictions, the prime minister said.
People aged 50 and over and those with underlying health conditions will be offered a jab by April 15.
Lead researcher of the Scotland vaccine study Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, said: “These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future.
“We now have national evidence – across an entire country – that vaccination provides protection against Covid-19 hospitalisations.”
Dr Jim McMenamin, national Covid-19 incident director at Public Health Scotland, said: “These results are important as we move from expectation to firm evidence of benefit from vaccines.
“Across the Scottish population the results show a substantial effect on reducing the risk of admission to hospital from a single dose of vaccine.
“For anyone offered the vaccine I encourage them to get vaccinated.”
Chris Robertson, professor of public health epidemiology at the University of Strathclyde, said: “These early national results give a reason to be more optimistic about the control of the epidemic.”