The coronavirus vaccination programme has been linked to a substantial reduction in hospital admissions, experts have said.
Researchers examined Covid-19 hospital admissions in Scotland among people who have had their first jab and compared them with those who had not yet received a dose of the vaccine.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland examined data on people who had received either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the one developed by experts at the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca.
By the fourth week after receiving the initial dose, the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines were shown to reduce the risk of hospital admission from Covid-19 by up to 85% and 94%, respectively, they found.
Lead researcher of the Scotland vaccine study Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, said: “These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future.
“We now have national evidence – across an entire country – that vaccination provides protection against Covid-19 hospitalisations.”
Dr Jim McMenamin, national Covid-19 incident director at Public Health Scotland, said: “These results are important as we move from expectation to firm evidence of benefit from vaccines.
“Across the Scottish population the results show a substantial effect on reducing the risk of admission to hospital from a single dose of vaccine.
“For anyone offered the vaccine I encourage them to get vaccinated.”
Chris Robertson, professor of public health epidemiology at the University of Strathclyde, said: “These early national results give a reason to be more optimistic about the control of the epidemic.”
The news comes as it was reported 1,431,942 people have received the first dose of the Covid vaccination and 35,479 have received their second dose.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination was the first coronavirus vaccine to be given the green light in the UK in 2020 and in December the first patients were given the jab.
Just weeks later, the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was rolled out in January.
Care home residents and staff, frontline health and social care staff, and those aged 80 and over were the first to receive the vaccination, with those over 70 and shielding in the second group.