The vaccine rollout has had a signifiant impact on driving down Covid-related hospitalisations and risk of serious illness in Scotland, new data has shown.
Research from Public Health Scotland (PHS) found that the Pfizer and Astrazeneca vaccines reduced the risk of hospitalisation from Covid-19 by up to 85 per cent and 94 per cent respectively.
Among over-80s, vaccination saw an 81 per cent reduction in hospitalisation when the results for both vaccines were combined.
The research, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, was carried out by PHS alongside teams at the universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrew’s.
Scientists gathered data from 8 December — when the first doses were administered — to 15 February, assessing the efficacy rates four weeks after patients received their initial dose.
Researchers also analysed data for every week during the two-month period, including GP records on vaccination, hospital admissions, death registrations and laboratory test results.
They compared the results of those who had received their first jab with those who had not.
Lead researcher Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of Edinburgh University’s Usher Institute, said the results were “very encouraging” and provided “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,” he said.
It comes after the vaccines deployment minister this morning said the UK’s vaccination programme was “beginning to bear fruit”, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to unveil his roadmap for exiting lockdown this afternoon.
Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News the “evidence looks good” on the Covid vaccination plan, which has seen almost one in three adults in the UK receive their first dose of the jab.
“We wouldn’t be in this place this morning… if we’re not confident that actually the vaccine programme is beginning to really bear fruit,” he added.
Two households, or up to six people, will be able to meet outdoors from the end of next month for the first time this year under Johnson’s new plans.
The PM is expected to announce that “stay at home” orders will be lifted from 29 March, alongside the reopening of local facilities such as tennis courts and football pitches.