LONDON—New evidence from the U.K. showed Covid-19 vaccinations sharply reduced serious illness and deaths among elderly people after just one dose, bolstering optimism that successful vaccination programs offer a return to economic growth this year after a year of widespread lockdowns.
The real-world data from the country that is vaccinating a greater proportion of its population than any major Western economy also offers support for the U.K. government’s strategy of stretching out limited vaccine supplies by delaying a second shot of vaccine by up to 12 weeks after the first to protect more people from the disease.
British researchers said in preliminary findings published online Monday that a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine developed either by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE or the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca PLC reduced the risk of hospitalization among people over 70 years old by 80%, compared with those of a similar age who weren’t vaccinated.
The study adds to evidence from across the world that vaccines are broadly as effective in the real world as they were shown to be in clinical trials, giving hope that mass rollouts can reduce the need for restrictive public-health measures and pave the way for economic reopening.
“It is going to hopefully take us into a very different world in the next few months,” England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said Monday, referring to vaccination.