2 vaccine doses mostly prevent hospitalization
Two doses of Covid-19 vaccines are "highly effective" in preventing hospital admission with the Delta variant, Public Health England said on Monday.
Scientists said two jabs of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine stopped the need for in-patient treatment in 96 percent of cases. With a double dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot, the rate was 92 percent, PHE added.
The findings were published as Britain grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases, most of which were of the Delta strain, which first emerged in India.
The government, which began a mass-vaccination programme with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab in December last year, is pushing for more people to get two jabs.
PHE said the vaccine effectiveness for the Delta variant is comparable to that for the Alpha strain. Head of immunisation Mary Ramsay said: "These hugely important findings confirm that the vaccines offer significant protection against hospitalisation from the Delta variant."
Further investigations were under way to determine the level of protection against death from the Delta variant, PHE said, but added that it was expected to be "high".
Simon Kolstoe, senior lecturer in evidence-based healthcare at the University of Portsmouth, said the inoculation programme was clearly working. Nearly 57 percent of the UK's adult population has had two doses, according to government statistics.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed his plans to lift most remaining Covid-19 restrictions by a month on Monday, warning that thousands more people might die if he did nothing because of the rapid spread of the more infectious Delta variant.
Under the final stage of a plan outlined by Johnson in February, he had hoped to lift most social restrictions on June 21, meaning pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and other hospitality venues could fully reopen.
That much-anticipated step was pushed back to July 19.
"I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer," Johnson told a news conference. "As things stand, and on the evidence that I can see right now, I'm confident that we will not need more than four weeks."
On Monday, Britain recorded 7,742 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths.