Covid hospital admissions among the elderly in England are three times lower than without vaccines, official analysis shows.
The findings, revealed last night in a report from Public Health England, provide the only official look at how well the jab rollout is protecting the NHS during the third wave.
About 200 people over 65 were hospitalized with the virus on July 10, the cut-off date for which data is available, compared with the 750 who would have been expected without the vaccination campaign.
In total, PHE estimates that more than 50,000 admissions have been prevented and nearly 40,000 deaths in England.
It’s likely that the shots even outperformed suggested in the analysis, which doesn’t break down how many hospitalized patients were unvaccinated.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the country’s chief scientific adviser, said last week that about 60 percent of people hospitalized have not had any shots. A smaller proportion received only one dose.
The AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, given to most elderly Britons, have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by more than 90 percent, even with the Delta variant.
Among those who still get Covid and are hospitalized, their illness is often milder than in previous waves and they are discharged more quickly thanks to the shots.
PHE said its analysis did not take into account the millions of infections the vaccines have prevented, which will also indirectly have reduced hospitalizations.
Experts told MailOnline the findings were “very important” and described them as “clear evidence” that the vaccines are doing their job in protecting the most vulnerable.
The green line shows the number of hospitalizations of the over-65s that officials would have expected on July 10 had the vaccines not arrived – about 750. The red line shows the actual number of over-65s admitted on that date, about 200 The other lines emphasize the inclusion of one (D1) or two (D2) vaccine doses in different age groups
Adults under the age of 65 (red line) now account for a higher proportion of hospital admissions than elderly groups (blue), who were traditionally most likely to become seriously ill from Covid. Older groups were prioritized for the vaccines and uptake was highest in those groups, which is what caused the shift. Children (green) have always had a very small risk of the virus
The proportion of cases is broken down by age group and marked as a percentage. It shows that around March – around the time older groups began to enjoy protection against their second shot – young and middle-aged Britons began to make up the majority of hospital admissions for the first time in the pandemic.
PHE said that of the 52,600 hospitalizations prevented by the vaccines in England, 8,800 were in the 65- to 74-year-olds, 20,300 in the 75- to 84-year-olds and 23,500 in the oldest groups.
The report added: ‘There is mounting evidence that vaccines prevent infection and transmission. The indirect effects of the vaccination program are not included in this analysis, so the figure of 52,600 avoided hospital admissions is probably an underestimate.’
dr. Raghib Ali, epidemiologist from Cambridge University, told MailOnline: ‘This is very important. I am very excited about the release of this data and it really confirms what we saw in the clinical trials [of the vaccines].
“It is the first real evidence of the impact of the vaccines and clearly shows the effect they have had on admissions in the over-65s, most of whom by then [July 10] received both doses. I expect comparable results in all age groups.’
Brits warned not to argue about a second Pfizer vaccine prematurely
Britons have been urged not to get their second Covid shot early as this could lead to weaker protection against the virus.
A study by scientists at the nation’s top universities found that having at least six weeks between doses of Pfizer’s vaccine boosts immunity, with eight weeks being the sweet spot.
It comes amid growing concerns that young people are rushing to get their top-up early so they can go on quarantine-free summer vacations to amber-listed destinations.
Some vaccine centers offer walk-in services, which have hired people who have had their first Pfizer shot three weeks in advance.
The study of 500 NHS staff found that waiting ten weeks instead of three weeks causes the body to produce more than twice as many antibodies to fight India’s ‘Delta’ Covid variant.
Professor Susanna Dunachie, a medical microbiologist at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study, said: ‘I think eight weeks is about the right place for me.
‘Because [while] people want to get the two vaccines and there’s a lot of Delta right now, unfortunately I don’t see this virus going away so you want to weigh that against getting the best possible protection.
“And there are also decisions at the population level.”
The government will also relax self-isolation rules next month for people who have had both vaccines, raising fears that people will try to get their second shot too early.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, added: ‘This is absolute proof that the vaccines are working and doing their job to control hospital admissions.
“It doesn’t account for the fact that we’re seeing far fewer cases than we would without the shots, so it’s really an underestimation of the power of the vaccines.”
On 10 July there were about 30,000 daily cases in the UK and about 550 admissions of all age groups. In the two weeks that followed, that rose to 45,000 infections and 750 admissions.
But the vaccines have weakened the link between infection and serious illness, which is highlighted when recordings are compared to previous waves.
The last time the country recorded 45,000 cases a day was in mid-January, when there were 4,000 Covid hospitalizations every day.
Doctors also report that Covid patients are less sick and have shorter hospital stays than in previous waves, which is highlighted in clinical data.
There are now about 4,000 patients with Covid in hospital beds compared to the 20,000 at the same point in the second wave.
A source who sits on one of the government’s advisory bodies told MailOnline: ‘Thanks to the vaccines, admissions are not the same as they used to be.
‘Patients presenting now are not that demanding, they are not people who are desperately ill and need a high level of medical treatment. Of course there are still some.’
It comes after MailOnline analysis yesterday showed that Covid admissions are rising in four-fifths of hospitals across England, reaching their highest level in four months.
The latest official figures show the number of coronavirus patients staying overnight in hospital beds rose 36 percent to 3,068 in the week ending July 20.
This was the highest number since March 1, when 704 Covid patients were hospitalized. In the worst-hit trusts, the number of inpatients has nearly quadrupled in the past week.
North East Anglia NHS Foundation Trust in Cambridge saw the number of patients increase from six to 23 in a week.
By comparison, only 17 of the 126 hospitals in England that can treat Covid saw their bed use decline.
But hospitals are not yet flooded with Covid patients. Only three trusts had 10 percent or more of their beds filled with patients with the virus.
Government data shows a 14 percent drop in testing compared to last week, which may be partly behind the decline
Covid admissions are rising in four-fifths of hospitals in England, official NHS data has shown the third wave continues to put pressure on the NHS. Above are the trusts that have seen the largest percentage increase in withdrawals in the past week. It doesn’t necessarily mean that these hospitals were the most full
Hospitals in Kent saw nearly 45 percent of all beds occupied by Covid-infected Britons during the darkest days of the second wave in January.
Of the trusts with more than ten Covid patients, Northampton General Hospital made the second biggest jump, taking the number of patients from seven to 26 in a week.
It was followed by Chesterfield Royal Hospital, which saw a 233 percent increase, Royal Berkshire (200 percent) and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (200 percent) in Kent.
Regionally, the east of England saw the biggest spike in Covid patients, with the number of beds used to treat people with the virus rising 74 percent to 194
The Midlands and North East and Yorkshire saw the next biggest spikes – 48.6 per cent and 42 per cent respectively – and the latter also had the highest number of beds used in England, at 745.
Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust had most of the beds used by Covid patients, with 46 of the 409 capacity being taken up by infected people being treated for the virus – 11.3 per cent.
Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust had the second most (10.8 percent) while Bolton NHS Foundation Trust was the third trust with more than one in ten of its beds used by Covid patients (10 percent).
Eleven trusts had less than one percent of the beds in use, and Queen Victoria Hospital in West Sussex and Dorset County Hospital had none.