Vaccination is already easing Britain’s Covid epidemic with early data showing it is definitely reducing cases.
Research due to be published within days will provide real-world evidence that Britons are being protected, including suggestions that the effect is still building a month after one dose, said Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Yesterday official figures showed that another 414,419 people had been given a first dose, taking that total to 7.9 million, suggesting the NHS is more than halfway towards its target of immunising the four most vulnerable groups by the middle of next month.
Protection is thought to take at least two weeks to build but Professor Harnden said it was clear that mass vaccination was working to bring down cases.
“The preliminary data indicate a vaccine effect from the first dose in both younger adults and in older adults over 80. The effect seems to increase over time,” he said. “It is possible that we may get stronger and better long-term protection by a delayed second dose.”
Initial vaccination focused on the over-80s and NHS and care staff and has since widened out to younger people and the clinically vulnerable.
Infection rates in the over-80s have fallen by 36 per cent this month. Other age groups have seen similar falls, while the biggest drop is in twenty-somethings whose rates have halved.