Receiving two doses of Covid vaccines is “highly effective” against hospitalisation from the Delta variant first identified in India, Public Health England (PHE) has said.
An analysis by PHE published on Monday suggested the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective against hospitalisation after two doses and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective.
The government had hoped to end social distancing rules in England on June 21.
But this has been pushed back to July 19 due to fears about a surge in cases driven by the Delta variant.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said he PHE data showed it was “crucial” for people to get both doses.
“Our UK vaccination programme continues at pace and has already saved thousands of lives. It is our way out of this pandemic,” he said.
Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE’s head of immunisation at PHE, also said the findings showed how “absolutely vital” it was that people get both doses as soon as they are offered.
“The vaccines are the most important tool we have against Covid-19. Thousands of lives have already been saved because of them,” she said.
A delay to the June 21 unlocking means limits on numbers for sports events, pubs and cinemas are likely to remain in place, nightclubs will stay closed and people will be encouraged to keep up social distancing and working from home.