In England, preliminary data from a study of health care workers showed that the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of catching COVID-19 by 70 per cent after one dose, a figure that rose to 85 per cent after the second.
“This new evidence shows that the jab protects you, and protects those around you,” UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
“It is important that we see as much evidence as possible on the vaccine’s impact on protection and on transmission and we will continue to publish evidence as we gather it.”
The vaccine rollout is critical to returning the country to some sense of normalcy.
More than 17.5 million have received one vaccine dose so far — more than a third of the UK’s adult population.
Britain has had Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with more than 120,000 deaths.
Public Health England said its study of health-care workers suggest the vaccine may help prevent virus transmission “as you cannot spread the virus if you do not have infection.”
The findings are based on COVID-19 testing conducted every two weeks that detects infections whether or not someone shows symptoms.
Broader testing in the overall population showed that the Pfizer vaccine was 57 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic illness in people over 80 three to four weeks after the first dose.
That rose to more than 85 per cent after the second dose.
Overall, hospitalisations and death should be reduced by over 75 per cent after one dose of the vaccine, Public Health England said.
The agency said it is still monitoring the impact of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but “early signals in the data suggest it is providing good levels of protection from the first dose.”
UK regulators authorised widespread use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on December 30, almost a month after they approved the Pfizer vaccine.
The Scotland study was conducted by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland.
The preliminary findings were based on a comparison of people who had received one dose of vaccine and those who hadn’t been inoculated yet.
The data was gathered between December 8 and February 15, a period when 21 per cent of Scotland’s population received their first vaccine shot.
“These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future,” said Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute.