LONDON—The U.K.’s rapid vaccine rollout contributed to a substantial drop in infections, hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19, according to data that add to a growing body of evidence that the shots provide significant protection against the disease.
The new information from the U.K., published Monday, is preliminary and hasn’t been reviewed by other scientists, but provides reasons for optimism that vaccines offer a route out of a pandemic that has claimed at least 2.5 million lives world-wide and sickened tens of millions.
The data suggest vaccines are most successful in preventing hospitalizations and deaths, a top concern of health authorities. While vaccines also suppress new infections, the effect isn’t as pronounced.
The information appears to vindicate the U.K.’s policy of stretching limited vaccine supplies by delaying a second shot to up to 12 weeks after the first, while also emphasizing the extra protection that comes from a second shot.
The data include an analysis of the effect of vaccinations among the elderly, a study looking at infection among vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare workers, and a broad look at vaccinations in Scotland that covered more than five million people.
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