Covid-19 vaccines ‘highly effective’ in stopping Delta variant hospitalisations

Data from Public Health England shows two doses of Pfizer or AstraZeneca offer over 90% protection

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, England, Public Health England data suggests. Photograph: Kentaro Takahashi/Bloomberg.

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, England, Public Health England data suggests. Photograph: Kentaro Takahashi/Bloomberg.

 

Covid-19 vaccines are “highly effective” in preventing hospital admission with the Delta variant of the disease, 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, England, the data suggests.

The study of hospital admissions found:

- The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 94 per cent effective against hospital admission after just one dose, rising to 96 per cent after two doses.

- The AstraZeneca vaccine is 71 per cent effective against hospital admission after just one dose, rising to 92 per cent 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.

High levels of protection

“These findings indicate very high levels of protection against hospitalisation with the Delta variant with one or two doses of either vaccine,” the PHE researchers said.

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 12th to June 4th for emergency hospital admissions in England.

British health secretary Matt Hancock said “this evidence of the effectiveness of two doses against variants shows just how crucial it is to get your second jab”.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said the findings that the vaccines offer significant protection against hospitalisation from the Delta variant were hugely important.

“The vaccines are the most important tool we have against Covid-19 and thousands of lives have already been saved because of them,” he said.

“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.”

The study comes as separate research in Scotland suggested 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 jab was found to provide 79 per cent protection against infection from the Delta variant, compared with 92 per cent against the Alpha variant.

Immunity taking longer

The AstraZeneca vaccine offered 60 per cent protection against infection with the Delta variant compared with 73 per cent 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. - PA