A study by the University of Manchester, published on Wednesday, compared 170,000 vaccinated elderly patients aged between 80 and 83-years-old with unvaccinated 76 to 79-year-olds.
Researchers found the level of emergency hospital admissions were 76 per cent lower in the vaccinated groups with the number of positive Covid-19 tests also 70 per cent lower 35 days after their first vaccination.
The study matched inviduals based on their gender, where they lived, deprivation, health status, living arrangements, acute illness, and history of seasonal flu vaccination.
In its conclusions the study, which included analysis by NHS England staff, found both the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine were “effective at reducing Covid-19 hospitalisations and infections..”
It added that the nationwide vaccination of older adults in England had “reduced the burden of Covid-19.”
The latest Coronavirus data shows 32.3 million people have had at least one dose of a vaccination while there were 2,491 confirmed positives on Wednesday, with infections down 11.5 per cent over the past week. There were 38 deaths reported on Wednesday, with 234 deaths over the past week, a 9.3 per cent rise.
The results of the Manchester study have been hailed by NHS England’s chief executive Sir Simon Stevens who said: “Vaccines are successfully reducing hospitalisations and deaths amongst the cohorts that have had the vaccine.
“Data that we have analysed shows a 76 per cent reduction in emergency covid hospitalisations for the vaccination cohorts and as more and more people are vaccinated, that effect will widen.
“So with the next step of the opening process that began yesterday [moving to stage two of the government’s roadmap], we obviously have to track very carefully what that means for infection rates, but in terms of the vaccination programme, that is going extremely well and it’s a huge credit to everybody involved.”
The effect of the pandemic on the NHS, which has seen more than 350,000 patients be admitted to hospital with the virus, was one of the main reasons for the country to be forced into lockdown to reduce the number of seriously ill patients.
In January alone more than 100,000 patients were admitted with almost 40,000 on one day across the whole UK. Hospitals were forced to cancel thousands of operations and create makeshift critical care units in extra wards with staff not experienced in critical care redeployed to look after patients.
Public Health England has estimated the vaccination rollout has already saved more than 10,000 lives. The government is targeting vaccines based on age which according to experts is the single largest risk-factor for serious infection or death from Covid-19.
Yesterday Boris Johnson warned hospitalisations and deaths would rise “inevitably” as the UK lockdown was lifted.
The prime minister said: “The bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown. So, as we unlock, the result will inevitably be that we will see more infection, that sadly we will see more hospitalisations and deaths – and people have just got to understand that.”
The NHS has begun phase two of the vaccine programme with 95 per cent of the most at risk 32 million people now offered a vaccination. Those aged 45 and above can now book a vaccination with the government on target to offer all adults a vaccinationa against coronavirus by July.