One dose of the Covid jabs being deployed in Britain are up to 80 per cent effective at stopping already-ill elderly people from being hospitalised with the disease, fresh research shows.
Earlier this week, the first real-world analysis of the Oxford and Pfizer jabs in England found a single injection prevented eight in 10 over-80s from falling severely sick with the virus.
The latest study, by the University of Bristol, suggests the first dose works just as well in people of the same age who also have multiple underlying health woes. Scientists said the results were significant because they were in people least expected to be protected by the vaccine.
They found the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab prevented around 80.4 per cent of patients from being hospitalised with Covid two weeks after the first dose. A single shot of Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine was estimated to be 79.3 per cent effective after 14 days.
Researchers looked at 460 over-80s who had pneumonia or lung diseases, both of which make them extremely vulnerable to Covid. Many also had other conditions which drove up their risk even further.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Professor Adam Finn, a medical expert at Bristol who led the research and a member of the UK's top vaccine advisory panel, said he expects the effectiveness of the jabs to be even higher in younger age groups.
Age is the biggest risk factor for the coronavirus and the vast majority of deaths and hospitalisations are in elderly people, which is why the UK prioritised jabs for over-80s and care home residents.
But having underlying health conditions also drives up the risk of the virus, which is why Britons with conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes came after the elderly on the priority list.
A catalogue of data has confirmed the Covid vaccines in Britain's arsenal, even after just one dose, are even more effective in the real world than scientists could have hoped.
Covid deaths in England are falling faster than gloomy SAGE advisers thought they would, through a combination of the vaccine roll out and lockdown, and some SAGE scientists have started to come round to the idea of easing restrictions faster.
The study involved elderly adults admitted to University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) and North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) over December and January.
It included 466 people over 80, of whom 90 per cent were regarded as either frail or completely dependent on a carer.
'Many' of the patients were also suffering from other serious health conditions and diseases, the researchers said.
A 'crude' and controversial algorithm is being used to divvy up Covid jab supplies around the UK, MailOnline can reveal.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Department of Health bosses today confirmed officials deployed the Barnett formula to decide how many doses should be allocated to the devolved nations.
The method — used in the Treasury since the 1980s to distribute public funding — is widely recognised as being flawed because it looks almost solely at population size.
The Taxpayers' Alliance pressure group previously described the formula as a 'crude, back-of-the-envelope rule' because it doesn't consider different needs in different areas.
It also doesn't account for a range of other factors, such as the number of elderly people, rates of poverty and ill health — all of which make people vulnerable to Covid and bump them up the vaccine priority list.
The decision to use the strategy means England is receiving 84.1 per cent of vaccine shipments from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, Scotland 8.3 per cent, Wales 4.8 per cent and Northern Ireland 2.9 per cent.
A source told MailOnline that the devolved nations agreed that, despite its flaws, the Barnett formula was 'the most efficient method of vaccine allocation across the UK', given the urgency of the pandemic.
Public health experts said the UK's jab allocation strategy 'should have been stratified' so areas with larger elderly populations, like Wales, got more doses quicker.
But Professor Gabriel Scally, former director of public health for the South West of England, told MailOnline the success of the roll-out had 'probably nullified' any flaws in the Government's approach.
Despite fears the Barnett formula could lead to some areas lagging behind due to fewer supplies of vaccines, latest official figures show the home nations are jabbing at roughly the same rate.
Scotland has already given first doses to 97 per cent of over-70s, while England and Wales have jabbed 96 and 92 per cent of elderly residents, respectively. Equivalent age-related data for Northern Ireland is not yet available.
Experts said the slightly lower uptake in Wales' uptake was unlikely to be significant enough to be attributed to the formula.
More than 20million people across the UK have been given the initial injection and 800,000 have received both doses.
A successful roll-out and high uptake is at the heart of Boris Johnson's lockdown-easing plans, with a smooth programme essential to restrictions being relaxed fully by June.
A UK Government spokesperson said: 'We have secured and purchased