Less than 2% of elderly people show Covid-19 symptoms three weeks after vaccination, Sage data shows

Data published by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has provided evidence of the protection elderly people receive from even a single Covid-19 vaccination.

The figures related to the 74,405 people who were admitted to UK hospitals with the virus between September 2020 and the beginning of March this year, approximately 2,000 of whom had received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Within that group of around 2,000 patients, only 32 had received a jab more than three weeks before their symptoms started. This suggests that, once there has been enough time for the vaccine to have its full effect, it contributes to a significant decrease in serious illness resulting from Covid-19.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Sage member Professor Calum Semple said the proportion of people who had been hospitalised with symptoms of the virus three weeks after being vaccinated was "tiny" - less than 2%.

He also pointed out that this was only after a first vaccine dose in the elderly population.

"This is really good, real-world data showing that this vaccine works, and that one dose works really well," Prof Semple added.

"I think the message here is that when you come away from clinical trials, we can still show that the vaccine is working in the real world."

When he was asked about the government's plan for lifting lockdown restrictions, the Sage member said he could "see no reason why" it shouldn't be adhered to, provided the vaccine rollout continues on schedule.

The next significant date on the timetable for easing the rules is May 17th, when people will be able to meet indoors in groups of up to six, or two households. Indoor hospitality venues could also be allowed to reopen from this date.

Other recent data on the positive effects of vaccination against Covid-19 showed that a single jab can reduce household transmission of the virus by up to half.

Health secretary Matt Hancock described the figures from Public Health England as "terrific news".