The Covid-19 vaccination programme has led to a 'substantial reduction' in the risk of Covid-19 admissions to Scotland’s hospitals, according to a new study by Public Health Scotland.

The study by Public Health Scotland, the Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrew’s analysed data on vaccine effect from the EAVE II project, which uses patient data to track the pandemic and the vaccine roll out in real-time.

It found that among those aged 80 years and over, one of the highest risk groups, vaccination was associated with an 81% reduction in hospitalisation risk in the fourth week when the results for both vaccines were combined. 

Dr Jim McMenamin, National Covid-19 Incident Director at PHS, said: "These results are important as we move from expectation to firm evidence of benefit from vaccines. Across the Scottish population the results shown a substantial effect on reducing the risk of admission to hospital from a single dose of vaccine."

Vaccines were shown to reduce the risk of hospitalisation from Covid-19

Researchers also compared the outcomes of those who had received their first jab with those who had not. The study shows that, by the fourth week after receiving the initial dose, the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines were shown to reduce the risk of hospitalisation from Covid-19 in up to 85% and 94%, respectively.

The data was gathered between 8 December and 15 February. During this period, 1.14 million vaccines were administered and 21% of the Scottish population had received a first dose.

Lead researcher 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. Roll-out of the first vaccine dose now needs to be accelerated globally to help overcome this terrible disease."

The work was funded by the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research and Health Data Research UK, and supported by the Scottish Government.