The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine may reduce transmission of coronavirus by 67 per cent, an early study has revealed.
This is the first time a vaccine has been shown to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Test results by the University of Oxford, published in a pre-report with The Lancet, also showed a three month long gap between doses does not lower protection of the vaccine.
Vaccinated people may indirectly protect others
The results, which are yet to be formally published, have been hailed by the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock as “really encouraging”.
On Twitter, Hancock said: “This news about the Oxford vaccine is absolutely superb”.
The results of this study suggest the vaccine may have a “substantial” effect on transmission, which could mean each person who is vaccinated will indirectly protect other people too.
The study by the University of Oxford said that a single standard dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is 76 per cent effective from day 22 to day 90 after the jab. This means protection of the vaccine is not reduced in the three months between the first and second dose.
The report also supports the Government’s vaccine rollout strategy of administering a second dose after three months is still effective when it comes to reducing disease.
Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial and co-author of the paper, said: "These new data provide an important verification of the interim data that was used by more than 25 regulators including the MHRA and EMA to grant the vaccine emergency use authorisation.
"It also supports the policy recommendation made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for a 12-week prime-boost interval, as they look for the optimal approach to roll out, and reassures us that people are protected from 22 days after a single dose of the vaccine."
More than 9.6 million people in the UK have been given a first Covid-19 jab so far.
In France, the health advisory body has recommended that the Oxford vaccine only be used on people under the age of 65, citing a lack of data about the vaccine’s effectiveness in older people.
However, the vaccine was authorised for use in all adults in the EU last week by the European Medicines Agency.