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Jabs slash hospitalization rates

By ANGUS McNEICE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-02-23 09:43
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A healthcare worker holds a vial of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine at the Pentland Medical Practice in Currie, Scotland, Britain, Jan 7, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Results from Scotland offer hope for bringing the pandemic under control

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 have plummeted in Scotland since the nation began its inoculation campaign, according to new analysis that shows how vaccinations can prevent severe illness and ease pressure on health services.

Scotland is using two vaccines-one from Pfizer and BioNTech, the other from Oxford University and AstraZeneca-and data shows that the treatments reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations by 85 percent and 94 percent respectively between Dec 8 and Feb 15.

During this period, 1.1 million people in Scotland received their first shot, representing 21 percent of the population.

The analysis was conducted by five Scottish universities-Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow, and St Andrew's-in conjunction with Public Health Scotland, or PHS.

"These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future," said Aziz Sheikh, who is the project's lead researcher from Edinburgh University. "We now have national evidence-across an entire country-that vaccination provides protection against COVID-19 hospitalizations. Roll-out of the first vaccine dose now needs to be accelerated globally to help overcome this terrible disease."

In Scotland, 650,000 people have had the Pfizer shot and 490,000 have received the Oxford vaccine.

During the period, the researchers analyzed data including general practitioner records on vaccination, hospital admissions, death registrations, and laboratory test results, and compared the outcomes of those who had received their first jab with those who had not.

Combined data from both vaccines showed that people aged 80 years and older-which is one of the most vulnerable groups-received 81 percent reduced risk of hospitalization.

"These data show real promise that the vaccines we have given out can protect us from the severe effects of COVID-19," said Josie Murray, who is a consultant epidemiologist for PHS.

Chris Robertson, a professor of public health epidemiology at the University of Strathclyde, said that the results "give a reason to be more optimistic about the control of the epidemic".

Murray cautioned that this research is not concerned with whether vaccines can stop the spread of the virus.

"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," Murray said. "We also all need to protect ourselves, our families, and friends by taking the second dose of vaccine when it is offered."

As of Monday afternoon, more than 1.6 million people in Scotland had been tested for COVID-19. Of these, 198,184 had tested positive, and 6,950 people had died.

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