Coronavirus vaccines seem to reduce transmission of the virus, as well as just protecting people who have them, Matt Hancock has said.
The effect is so pronounced that healthcare workers who have been vaccinated appear 30% less likely to pass on Covid-19 to people they live with, according to a study.
Speaking at a press conference this evening, the health secretary said: ‘One of the other interesting facts that is really important is that the vaccine offers protection to you but also offers protection [to those] around you.
‘The data shows that if you live with someone who’s been vaccinated you have a 30% lower risk of catching Covid-19 yourself.
‘This is the first data that directly measures the impact of the vaccine on reducing transmission and shows that the vaccines are saving lives.
‘Both vaccines being rolled out in the UK are not just safe, but they make you safe. They’re saving lives and protecting people.’
He said the vaccination programme explains why deaths in the UK are ‘falling so fast’, down a third in the past week.
‘After a single dose of either vaccine, protection against Covid-19 is around 60%, that’s protection against getting it, protection against hospitalisation is around 80% and protection against death is around 85%,’ he said.
Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, seemed to explain the data slightly differently, saying: ‘The really exciting data that came from Scotland last week suggested that those vaccinated healthcare workers have a 30% lower chance of passing infection onto their household contacts, as the Secretary of State has already mentioned.
‘So this is really the first evidence we have of a reduction in transmission from vaccinating and it means that the more people we vaccinate, the more we are going to be able to reduce the spread of infection.
‘So overall, this is really now translating into seeing a decline in deaths and serious cases and it means every day we vaccinate more people, we are preventing more deaths.’
She said that healthcare workers who are vaccinated have a 70% reduction in their risk of getting infected after a single dose ‘and that’s whether they are a symptomatic case or an asymptomatic case. And that means they are therefore less likely to spread to vulnerable individuals that they care for.’
It comes as the NHS has written to doctors warning of ‘significant reduction in weekly supply’ of the Covid vaccines.
Local health organisations have been told to expect volumes for first doses available from manufacturers to be ‘significantly constrained’ from the week beginning March 29.
The letter sent around the heath service today the Government’s Vaccines Task Force ‘now currently predict this will continue for a four-week period.
It adds that ‘supply constraint means vaccination centres and community pharmacy-led local vaccination services should close unfilled bookings’ from that date.
Mr Hancock told the press briefing: ‘Vaccine supply is always lumpy and we regularly send out technical letters to the NHS to explain the ups and downs of the supply of the future weeks and what you are referring to is a standard one of those letters.’
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