Chances of healthcare workers passing Covid onto others reduced by at least 30% after one vaccine dose, according to the first UK study into the transmission of coronavirus following vaccination.
Quoting the research in yesterday’s coronavirus briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock said ‘it shows that the vaccines are saving lives’.
The study, which included 300,000 people, saw researchers assess the health records of people who lived with vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare workers between 8 December and 3 March to find how many tested positive for Covid-19 or were hospitalised.
The yet-to-be-peer-reviewed study, carried out by Public Health Scotland and the University of Glasgow, suggested that after one vaccine dose healthcare workers are at least 30% less likely to pass Covid onto others, with this rising to 54% less likely after a second dose.
The researchers said this is a low estimate of the ‘true’ impact of the vaccines, given that household members of healthcare workers could also be infected through people they do not live with.
Dr Diane Stockton, Public Health Scotland lead for the Covid-19 Vaccination Surveillance Programme, said the results from the study were ‘very encouraging because it suggests that the vaccine helps prevent people from passing on the virus to others – something that has been suspected but hasn’t previously been shown’.
However, she said that the risk of transmission did not go down to zero after healthcare workers were vaccinated, adding that ‘it is important to remember that infection prevention and control practices in healthcare settings remain of paramount importance’.
Speaking at yesterday’s coronavirus briefing, Public Health England head of immunisation Mary Ramsay quoted separate research which showed that ‘there is a 60% reduction in your chance of catching Covid if you are over 70 and vaccinated with both vaccines’, with the second dose adding additional protection.
She added: ‘On top of that, even if you do get Covid, having been vaccinated, our data shows that your risk of requiring hospital admission is reduced by a further 40%. And when you put those figures together, that means in the over-80s, we are preventing 80% of hospital admissions.’
Mr Hancock said: ‘We’re moving in the right direction thanks to everybody following the rules that are keeping us safe now and coming forward to get a jab that will keep us safe for the future.’