TWO Covid jabs stops hospitalisation from the Delta variant by up to 96 per cent.
Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s vaccines are hugely effective against severe illness when double dosed, encouraging new data has revealed today.
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It comes as the Prime Minister told the nation this evening June 21’s “Freedom Day” will be delayed by four weeks.
This is to get as many people doubled jabbed as possible to help stave off the virus and its mutations.
The PM said: “Vaccination greatly reduces transmission and two doses provides a very high degree of protection against serious illness and death.”
New Public Health England data shows that after two doses the Pfizer vaccine is 96 per cent effective against hospitalisation and the AstraZeneca slashes the risk by 92 per cent.
This is similar to the effectiveness against the Alpha variant, originally called Kent, which ripped through the country in December – but was beaten back thanks to the jabs rollout.
It comes as:
This evening during a Downing Street press conference Professor Chris Whitty said vaccines are reducing hospitalisation.
He added: “The majority of those going into hospital are under 65, this is the group that this is spreading, largely because vaccines are providing a lot of protection now.”
But he warned cases were increasing across the country – adding the link between people being admitted to hospital had been “substantially weakened” but “it has not been completely stopped”.
And Sir Stephen Vallance, addressing the country alongside Prof Whitty and the PM, said: “These vaccines are really highly effective against the Delta variants.
“If we didn’t have the vaccinations we have now we would be looking at ‘is another lockdown needed?'”
By delaying the full unlocking to July 19 an extra 10 million second Covid vaccine doses can be administered – protecting more of the nation.
Boris Johnson levelled with the nation to explain the reasoning for the extra wait for full freedoms, saying: “We can give the NHS a few more crucial weeks to get those remaining jabs into the arms of those who need them.
“And since today I cannot say that that we have met all our four tests for proceeding with Step 4 on June 21, I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer.”
He added that by July 19 around two-thirds of the adult population would have received two jabs, including all over-50s, the vulnerable and health and care workers, along with over-40s who had received a first dose by mid-May.
“To do this we will now accelerate the second jabs for those over 40, just as we did for the vulnerable groups, so they get the maximum protection as fast as possible.
“We will bring forward our target to give every adult in this country a first dose by July 19.”
The PM also announced those over the age of 23 in England will be able to book their jab from tomorrow.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on the PHE data: “Our UK vaccination programme continues at pace and has already saved thousands of lives. It is our way out of this pandemic.
“This evidence of the effectiveness of two doses against variants shows just how crucial it is to get your second jab.
“If you have had your first dose but haven’t booked your second yet – please do so. It will help save lives and boost us on the road to recovery.”
‘OUR WAY OUT’
The analysis included 14,019 cases of the Delta variant – 166 of whom were hospitalised – between 12 April and 4 June, looking at emergency hospital admissions in England.
PHE previously published data showing one dose is 17 per cent less effective at preventing symptomatic illness from the Delta variant, compared to Alpha, but there is only a small difference after two doses.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, said: “These hugely important findings confirm that the vaccines offer significant protection against hospitalisation from the Delta variant.
“The vaccines are the most important tool we have against COVID-19. Thousands of lives have already been saved because of them.
“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.”
Experts say the upbeat findings offer a clear path to ending lockdown.
Dr Peter English, Immediate past Chair of the BMA Public Health Medicine Committee, said: “This is more excellent news about the vaccines and their real-world effectiveness against the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
“This gives us more hope that the anticipated extension of the 21 June data for relaxing restrictions will not need to be delayed for too long.”
It comes as scientists said lowering the age bracket to the over-40s to get a second jab in eight weeks rather than 12 would “make sense”.
Professor Anthony Harnden told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: “As we move down the age groups, particularly with plentiful supply of AstraZeneca vaccine, it would make sense to shorten that dose interval from 12 to eight weeks.”
He added the JCVI is “looking carefully at what the Scottish Government has done”, adding “it seems to be a sensible strategy”.
On Sunday, Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, told the Andrew Marr programme the country was in a “race” to “get everyone to two doses”.
“If that is the scientific advice, of course we will look at it very carefully – but at the moment the advice we are getting is the approach that we are following, which is the over-50s, and we have got the supplies to do that.”
He indicated the government wants to use the additional time to get millions more younger people double-jabbed.
The cautious approach was, he said, necessary to ensure the the unlocking was “irreversible” and that they did not have to “yo-yo back in and out of measures”.
This weekend, the Prime Minister told ITV News: “We’re looking at all the data but what we’re wanting to do is avoid another wave of deaths that could be prevented by allowing the vaccines to work in the way that they are.
“It may be that in the race between the vaccines and the virus, we need to make sure we give the vaccines extra legs.”