JUST one shot of the British-made Covid jab slashes older people’s risk of being taken to hospital with the disease by 94 per cent, figures show.
It is the first time the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been proven to protect over-65s against the disease.
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In a second major boost to plans to unlock the UK, separate data suggests a single dose of the Pfizer jab cuts virus transmission by about 70 per cent, with deaths falling by at least three quarters.
The findings have allowed Boris Johnson finally to start mapping out the nation’s path to freedom.
The Oxford jab has faced boycotts across Europe after politicians, including French president Emmanuel Macron, cast doubt over its effectiveness in OAPs.
But analysis shows it offers almost complete protection against severe illness a month after the first dose.
The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: “It is clear that AstraZeneca works and it works in older people.”
The findings are based on an analysis of the impact of the first 1.1million jabs given in Scotland.
It shows four weeks after the initial Oxford vaccine — which was mostly given to over-65s — the risk of Covid hospitalisation fell by 94 per cent. And a single shot of the Pfizer jab was 85 per cent protective against severe illness.
Pooled data on both vaccines shows that in the over-80s — the highest risk group for Covid deaths — the chances of needing a stay in hospital fell by 81 per cent.
Similar effects are expected across the whole of the UK.
Lead researcher Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of Edinburgh University’s Usher Institute, said: “We are just absolutely over the moon. We now have national evidence — across an entire country — that vaccination provides protection against Covid hospitalisations.”
Elsewhere, real-world analysis of England’s vaccine blitz shows just one Pfizer jab slashes the risk of older people being hospitalised and dying by at least 75 per cent.
And Public Health England called that “the lower end of the estimate”.
Meanwhile, separate research following 23,324 NHS workers suggests a single dose of the Pfizer jab was enough to cut virus transmission by around 70 per cent.
And two doses resulted in 85 per cent fewer positive swabs among frontline NHS staff.
A total of 17.7 million Brits have now had their first Covid jab. Hospital admissions for the disease are down nearly three-quarters from their second-wave peak, according to NHS England.
5-MONTH SMELL HIT
PEOPLE with Covid lose their sense of taste and smell for up to five months, a study shows.
Even when their smell returns, sufferers say it isn’t as good as before. The findings are from a study of more than 800 health workers.
Seven in ten lost their sense of smell. Half of them said it had not returned after five months.
Nearly as many lost their sense of taste and nearly four in ten of them told the Canadian researchers it was not back in five months.
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