Vaccination has been linked to a substantial reduction in the risk of COVID-19 admissions to Scotland’s hospitals. As part of the EAVE II project, which uses patient data to track the pandemic and the vaccine rollout in real-time, Public Health Scotland (PHS), the Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrew’s analysed data on vaccine effect.
The data was gathered between 8 December and 15 February. During this period, 1.14 million vaccines were administered and 21 per cent of the Scottish population had received a first dose.
Researchers compared the outcomes of those who had received their first jab with those who had not. The study shows that, by the fourth week after receiving the initial dose, the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines were shown to reduce the risk of hospitalisation from COVID-19 in up to 85 per cent and 94 per cent, respectively. Among those aged 80 years and over, one of the highest risk groups, vaccination was associated with an 81 per cent reduction in hospitalisation risk in the fourth week when the results for both vaccines were combined.
Dr Jim McMenamin, National COVID-19 Incident Director at PHS, said:
"These results are important as we move from expectation to firm evidence of benefit from vaccines. Across the Scottish population the results shown a substantial effect on reducing the risk of admission to hospital from a single dose of vaccine."
"For anyone offered the vaccine I encourage them to get vaccinated. We are continuing our evaluation and look forward to describing the benefits that we hope will follow the second doses of these vaccines."
Josie Murray, PHS Public Health Consultant Lead for EAVE II, said:
"These data show real promise that the vaccines can protect from the severe effects of COVID-19. We must not be complacent though. We all still need to ensure we stop transmission of the virus, and the best way we can all do this is to follow public health guidance – wash hands often, keep two metres from others, and if you develop symptoms, isolate and take a test.”
"We also all need to protect ourselves, our families and friends by taking the second dose of vaccine when it is offered."
Lead researcher Professor Aziz Sheikh, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, said:
"These results are very encouraging and have given us 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".
"Roll-out of the first vaccine dose now needs to be accelerated globally to help overcome this terrible disease".
"The study was led from the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, which is one of five Data-Driven Innovation Hubs as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. The Institute is a sector-leader in applying data science to develop innovative and financially sustainable models of health and social care that improve lives".
The work was funded by the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research and Health Data Research UK, and supported by the Scottish Government.
View the Interim findings from first-dose mass COVID-19 vaccination roll-out and COVID-19 hospital admissions in Scotland: a national prospective cohort study (external website - full study published)
Read more about the EAVE-II Study (external website)