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UK: Pfizer, AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccines Effective in Reducing Infections in Older Patients


New real-world data from England suggests that the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in reducing infections among older patients.



New real-world data from Public Health England, a UK government health authority, suggests that the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are both highly effective in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections among older adults.

The pre-print of the new study was published online on the public service platform Knowledge Hub on March 1, 2021 and showed that a single dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was approximately 80% effective at preventing COVID-19-related hospitalization in adults aged ≥70 years.

NOTE: Both vaccines are in use under emergency authorization in the UK. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is distributed in the US under US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization; the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has yet to be evaluated by the US FDA for use in the US.

“This adds to growing evidence showing that the vaccines are working to reduce infections and save lives,” said study coauthor Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunization, Public Health England, in a press release. “While there remains much more data to follow, this is encouraging and we are increasingly confident that vaccines are making a real difference.”

Ramsay and colleagues examined the health records associated with 7.5 million people aged ≥70 years in the UK, making it one of the largest such studies to date. More than 150 000 people had vaccination data in the National Immunisation Management System and were included in the study.

The researchers found that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approximately 60%-70% effective at preventing symptomatic disease in adults aged ≥70 years, and 2 doses were approximately 85%-90% effective.

Also, adults who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine who went on to become a symptomatic case had a 44% lower risk of hospitalization and a 51% lower risk of mortality vs unvaccinated cases.

For the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the results showed that a single dose was 60%-75% effective against symptomatic disease and was associated with a 37% reduced risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization. The researchers also noted that there was insufficient follow-up to assess the effect of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on mortality due to its later rollout date.

“It is important to remember that protection is not complete and we don’t yet know how much these vaccines will reduce the risk of you passing COVID-19 onto others,” added Ramsay in the same press release. “Even if you have been vaccinated, it is it is really important that you continue to act like you have the virus, practise [sic] good hand hygiene and stay at home.”

For more COVID-19 coverage for primary care, visit our COVID-19 Resource Page.
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