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U.K. studies show COVID-19 vaccines led to sharp drop in hospital admissions

Although the winter storm slowed down momentum temporarily, the CEO of Memorial Hermann says a little over 10% of the local population is immunized at this point.

HOUSTON — COVID-19 vaccines have been called the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, there’s scientific evidence out of the U.K. to back that up.

In Scotland, researchers found hospital admissions went down 85% four weeks after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not approved in the United States, reduced hospitalizations 94%.

Another study in England followed health care workers. It showed the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of catching the virus by 70% after one dose and 85% after receiving the second dose.

Dr. David Callender, CEO of Memorial Hermann Hospital, says the studies validate the U.K.’s strategy of stretching out the time between vaccine doses. He says increasing the number of shots in arms locally is having a positive impact on hospitalizations here too.

“We’ve always believed the vaccine truly is the ultimate step to helping us get beyond COVID-19. We’re very excited the supply continues to grow,” he said.

He said COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates have been dropping for weeks. Dr. Callender believes three factors are contributing to the trend.

“If you think about that, people who have been vaccinated even with just one dose. You think about people with natural immunity from already having experienced the disease, perhaps asymptomatically. You add those two together, I think it’s having an impact,” he said.

Dr. Callender says the third factor is people wearing face coverings, frequently washing their hands, and practicing social distancing.

Although the winter storm slowed down momentum temporarily, he says a little over 10% of the local population is immunized at this point. He expects coronavirus hospitalizations to continue decreasing.