JUST one Covid jab offers two-thirds protection against the virus, first official data from the vaccine blitz reveals.
Findings — due out in days — will show the Pfizer vaccine starts to work in as little as two weeks and is equally effective in OAPs as younger adults.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab offers similar protection.
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The good news — as Sir Michael Caine backed the jabs drive and the number vaccinated rose to 12.65million — raises hopes of an earlier exit from lockdown.
A Government source called the findings “hugely positive”.
The dose reduced the symptomatic infection risk by 65 per cent in younger adults, and 64 per cent in over-80s.
Experts found Brits given two shots of the jab saw protection rise to between 79 and 84 per cent, depending on age.
Although lower than the 95 per cent efficacy shown in clinical trials, the figures remain hugely encouraging.
Early data suggests hospital cases among immunised older Brits have started falling to a “fraction of previous levels”.
A Government source said: “One of the key findings is the Pfizer vaccine is having just as big an impact in over-80s as in under-65s.
“The only difference is that protection starts after 15 days in younger age groups, but it takes three weeks for it to work in older people.”
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the data was “quite amazing”.
He told The Sun: “If these numbers are borne out, then they are very reassuring.
“If they are achieving 65 per cent protection after three weeks with both jabs, then I think that’s really good.
“And that’s a vindication of our current strategy as it protects more people than giving two doses three weeks apart.
“I am still, despite the South African strain, quite confident that we will see a gradual opening of the society, probably starting with schools opening early March.”
Scientists say early data also shows the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab — which was rolled out a month after Pfizer — offers similar levels of protection across all age groups.
The analysis will help Boris Johnson decide when to starting lifting the national lockdown and re-open schools.
The Government source added: “These are hugely positive findings, and show vaccination is having a real impact on the pandemic.
“The data backs up our approach to delay the second vaccine and save more lives.”
UK experts said Britain would be vindicated for adopting the Oxford vaccine early for older adults. Several European countries — including Germany, France and Spain — have rejected it for use in over-65s.
A Government scientist told The Sun: “There is an international attempt to cast some doubt on the Oxford vaccine, but it clearly works.”
The NHS vaccinated 352,480 people on Monday, taking the total number of Brits given their first dose to 12,646,486.
The research suggests all of the Brits vaccinated so far will have high levels of protection by the end of February.
Government experts estimate jabbing 15million high-risk Brits by next week will lead to intensive care admissions for Covid falling by up to a third by early March.
And by late April, they expect them to plummet by around four-fifths.
The senior scientist said: “Efficacy is hitting the mid-60s (per cent) when the immunity first kicks in. With the second dose it should get into the 80s.
“There’s not much difference between the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines.”
Mr Johnson has set a March 8 target for re-opening schools.
The scientist added: “The way it’s been going, pretty much anybody getting vaccinated until now will have their immunity kicked in by late-February.
“It’s really an excess of caution to delay opening primary schools much beyond that.”
World Health Organisation guidelines state Covid jabs must hit an efficacy target of 50 per cent to be approved for use.
But Public Health England data — set to be published in days — shows a single dose of the Pfizer jab beats that.
A PHE spokesperson said: “We are analysing data collected since the start of the vaccination rollout and will publish our findings in due course.”
Latest figures reveal a drop in UK coronavirus infections.
Yesterday’s tally was 12,364 compared to 14,104 cases on Monday. A further 1,052 Covid-related deaths were recorded.
The Sun Says
IGNORE the doom-mongers. The vaccine results The Sun reveals today are simply fantastic news.
Just one Pfizer jab gives 64-65 per cent protection. Two boosts it to about 84.
The Oxford vaccine is expected to be similar and — despite self-interested smears from Brussels — across all age groups.
Remember, this is against MILD illness. The jabs’ success in preventing severe cases or even death will be higher still.
Indeed the PHE data already seems to show hospitalisations of OAPs plunging thanks to their jabs. That is wonderful news for them — and for Britain’s hopes of a rapid return to near-normality.
These jabs are FAR more effective than a flu shot, which hits 50 per cent protection at best and is often far lower.
And the results, Britain’s first since the clinical trials, utterly vindicate the Government delaying the second dose to inoculate as many people as possible.
With the continued falls in deaths and positive cases, things are looking up.
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