The Covid-19 vaccination programme has prevented 33,000 hospitalisations and 11,700 deaths in older adults, figures from Public Health England (PHE) suggest.
Researchers analysing data up to the end of April estimated that 9,900 deaths were prevented in those aged 80 and over, 1,500 in those aged 70-79 and 300 in those aged 60-69 compared with what would have been expected with no vaccine.
Data also points to the prevention of 3,900 hospital admissions in those aged 65-74, 13,100 in those aged 75-84 and 16,000 in those aged 85 and older up to the end of last month.
The number of hospitalisations prevented can be estimated by considering vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation, vaccine coverage and observed hospitalisations, as well as through modelling, PHE said.
With increasing evidence that vaccines help to reduce transmission, it is likely that an even higher number of deaths and hospitalisations have been prevented by the roll out of Covid-19 jabs, public health officials said.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: ‘The vaccine has already saved so many lives and we can now see the huge impact it has had on preventing people becoming seriously ill and therefore also protecting our hospitals.’
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the figures were remarkable ‘after a heart-breaking and difficult year’.
Latest figures show 35.9 million people – 68.2% of the adult population have now had one dose with 18.8 million having had both doses.
The vaccine programme has now been rolled out to those aged 38-39 who will be able to book through the national system where they can be automatically be directed to available appointments at sites with supplies of either Pfizer or Moderna, as recommended for the under-40s by the JCVI.
NHS England said PCN-led vaccination sites will be able to order extra Pfizer vaccine doses in order to follow the new guidance.
Dr Emily Lawson, NHS England’s lead for the NHS vaccine programme, said: ‘It is great to see from this study the impact that the NHS’s incredible efforts are now having in demonstrably reducing the need for hospital care as well as saving thousands of lives from coronavirus.
‘The success of the NHS vaccination programme is not a happy accident – it’s the result of exceptional planning, targeted delivery and people’s determination to protect their patients, friends and communities as fast as possible.’
PHE had previously estimated that the vaccine programme had prevented 10,400 deaths up until the end of March this year.