Sturgeon says there is ‘optimism for future’ after vaccinations linked to drop in risk of coronavirus hospital admissions
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there is cause for optimism after research showed the vaccination programme is having a substantial impact on COVID-19 hospital admissions.
The programme is showing "real promise" in protecting people from the severe effects of the virus, experts have said.
The study described the effect of the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca jags in the community on preventing severe illness resulting in hospitalisation.
By the fourth week after receiving the initial dose, the two vaccines were shown to reduce the risk of hospitalisation from COVID by up to 85 per cent and 94 per cent respectively.
Sturgeon said of the findings at the lunchtime briefing: "That is exceptionally encouraging news and on this Monday I hope it gives all of us that little bit of optimism that we need now for the future."
Among those aged 80 and over vaccination was associated with an 81 per cent reduction in hospitalisation risk in the fourth week when the results for both vaccines were combined.
As part of the EAVE II project, which uses patient data to track the pandemic and the vaccine rollout in real time, researchers from Public Health Scotland (PHS) and Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrews universities analysed a dataset covering the entire Scottish population of 5.4 million.
Data on vaccine effect was gathered between 8 December and 15 February.
During this period, 1.14 million vaccines were administered and 21 per cent of the Scottish population had received a first dose based on Scottish Government prioritisation.
Dr Josie Murray, of Public Health Scotland, said: "These data show real promise that the vaccines we have given out can protect us from the severe effects of Covid-19. We must not be complacent though.
"We all still need to ensure we stop transmission of the virus, and the best way we can all do this is to follow public health guidance - wash your hands often, keep two metres from others, and if you develop symptoms, isolate and take a test.
"We also all need to protect ourselves, our families and friends by taking the second dose of vaccine when it is offered."