Charts present how vaccines are working


Pharmacist Murtaza Abdulkarim (L) administers a dose of the AstraZeneca / Oxford Covid-19 vaccine to a patient at the Al-Abbas Islamic Center in Birmingham, West Midlands on February 4, 2021 at a temporary vaccination center manned by pharmacists and pharmacist assistants.

Oli Scarff | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – The first real data from the UK vaccination program has given some insight into the effectiveness of vaccines against Covid-19.

Developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the vaccine was the first vaccine to be approved and launched in the UK in December. Those over 80, health workers and nursing home staff were the first to be vaccinated. This was soon followed by the shot developed by the Briton AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Here are four charts summarizing how effective these vaccines are and how they are doing their part in fighting the pandemic:

Falling deaths in those over 85

Since older people were the first to be vaccinated, it is noticeable that deaths from Covid are falling the fastest in these age groups. The graph below shows deaths from Covid in Scotland, with a decline in the over-85 group as the vaccination program gained momentum. Click here for the full details.

An increase in antibodies

A blood test published last week by Imperial College London found that nearly 14% of the UK population now have antibodies to the coronavirus. While this does not necessarily mean immunity, the results of the people vaccinated and the level of their antibody levels were interesting. 18,000 participants in the 155,000-person study were vaccinated and the results are shown in the table below. Click here for the full details.

A separate study in England found that the highest percentage of people who tested positive for antibodies was aged 80 and over, at 41%, which, according to statisticians, “is most likely due to the high vaccination rate in this group”.

The real effectiveness of the Pfizer shot

Public Health England has done a thorough study of how effective the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has been in protecting against symptomatic disease. The table below shows that a dose is 57% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 disease in people over 80 years of age (from 28 days after the first dose).

The effectiveness of the vaccine is calculated using a mathematical statistic called the odds ratio. Click here for full data and methods.

… and the AstraZeneca vaccine

Public Health Scotland also collected data on the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for all ages. The graph shows that the Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines reduce the risk of Covid-19 hospitalization by up to 85% and 94%, respectively, in the fourth week after receiving a first dose. Click here for the dates and the full methodology.

Since the start of the vaccination rollout, the UK has targeted all four key priority groups. The goal is now to vaccinate all over 50s by mid-April and all adults by the end of July, two months ahead of an earlier goal.

As of Sunday, over 20 million people had received their first vaccine dose and nearly 800,000 had received both doses, government data said.

The UK vaccination program was widely hailed as a triumph amid tragedy. The UK has the fifth highest number of infections in the world after the US, India, Brazil and Russia with over 4.1 million registered infections and 123,083 deaths. This is the fifth highest number of deaths in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

—CNBC’s Bryn Bache contributed to this article.